Walmart on Tuesday announced that it has brought on more than double the number of personal shoppers than last year, bringing this year's total to more than 157,000 associates.
Personal shoppers will be putting together customers' online pickup and delivery orders. Shoppers can place orders for contactless pickup, standard delivery, express delivery and free unlimited delivery via Walmart+, per the company announcement.
Walmart launched the program six years ago with a few hundred personal shoppers. The company noted that the service will remain a key part of its business given the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tom Ward, Walmart's senior vice president of customer product, said that the retailer's personal shoppers have become essential for its pickup and delivery services. "Our stores have really focused on convenience over the last few years, and that's allowed us to quickly shift to the changing needs of our customers," Ward wrote in the post.
As COVID-19 placed a renewed focus on essential retailers, Walmart has implemented changes to support logistics. Last week, the retailer introduced pop-up regional distribution centers to handle the increased volume of online orders during the holiday season. Back in September, the retailer also brought on more than 20,000 seasonal workers to fulfill those e-commerce orders.
Other retailers, including Nordstrom, Amazon and Target, have hired additional workers ahead of the holiday season, many of whom will support same day services and online fulfillment. The pandemic has already brought the challenges of e-commerce to the surface, but online holiday sales are expected to spike this year, according to research from Adobe.
Walmart, like many other essential retailers, experienced a sales bump during the pandemic. This week, Walmart reported U.S. net sales increased 6.2% in the third quarter to $88.4 billion, while e-commerce sales jumped 79%. Executives stated that operating losses in the company's e-commerce unit shrunk significantly.