Walmart Unveils Second e-Commerce Center in Bethlehem, Its “Jewel in the Crown”
By Colin McEvoy on July 22, 2015
Global e-commerce sales are a booming enterprise for Walmart, rising approximately 22 percent last year to a total of $12.2 billion. And the heart of Walmart’s growing e-commerce distribution network is now located right here in the Lehigh Valley.
Walmart held a grand opening and sneak preview event on July 22 at its recently-opened 1.2 million square-foot e-commerce fulfillment center in Bethlehem’s Lehigh Valley Industrial Park VII. Combined with a second Walmart e-commerce center in that same park, they are expected to generate nearly 1,000 full-time jobs over the next few years.
“We’re building a network,” Greg Foran, president and CEO of Walmart U.S., said of the company’s e-commerce sites in 11 countries worldwide. “It’s going to be close to our customers, it’s going to be multi-faceted, (and) this facility is really the jewel in the crown. We’re really thrilled with how this came out in the Lehigh Valley.”
Dedicated solely to online orders, the new e-commerce center will have the capacity to generate hundreds of thousands of packages each day. The newly-opened facility created 400 full-time jobs, with 150 more full-time jobs expected to be added in the future, and another 500 part-time expected during the holiday season.
The second e-commerce facility, which opened in the spring of 2014, employs about 200. That building was constructed by Majestic Realty Property. The first e-commerce facility building was constructed on speculation by Liberty Property Trust before Walmart announced it would be leasing it. Walmart previously announced they were investing $96 million in both projects.
“This project is another sign that economic development is alive and well in Northampton County,” county Executive John Brown said to a crowd of about 600 people, mostly Walmart employees, during the ceremony. “From the Green Knights Industrial Park in the Slate Belt, to the Chrin development (off Route 33), to the CRIZ zone in the city of Bethlehem, Northampton County has seen a resurgence not only in business and industry, but also in the community.”
The Lehigh Valley boasts a rapidly growing e-commerce – with about 5,000 jobs added in the last four years – in part due to our well-developed transportation infrastructure and close proximity to major Northeastern U.S. markets like New York City and Philadelphia. In addition to Walmart, the national online retailer zulily is establishing its first East Coast location on former Bethlehem Steel Corp. land, creating 1,200 new jobs.
The Walmart facility, which will operate seven days a week and features state-of-the-art automation and warehousing systems, has a 40-foot-high ceiling and is the size of about 21 football fields, Foran said. The site includes 102 dock doors, 500 trailer parking spots, 70 rows of racking, 62 pieces of power equipment, and has enough space for a possible 500,000 square-foot expansion in the future.
Walmart, the world’s largest retailer and the biggest company in the world by revenue, employs a total of more than 2,000 people in the Lehigh Valley between its stores, distribution centers, and other locations, according to Mike McGraw, general manager of the e-commerce facility.
Walmart offers 7 million items online, and expects to increase that amount to 10 million by the end of 2015. The company’s website has received more than 80 million monthly unique visitors, and Walmart operates e-commerce sites in the United States, United Kingdom, China, Brazil, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, South Africa and India.
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