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: Walmart invests in San Francisco-based autonomous vehicle company, Cruise

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Walmart Inc.
WMT,
+0.45%

announced an investment in San Francisco-based self-driving vehicle company, Cruise, on Thursday. Walmart did not specify the size of the investment.

The two companies began working together last November on a delivery pilot program in Scottsdale, AZ.

Cruise’s fleet of vehicles is also all-electric, which is another step in Walmart’s effort to achieve its environmental goals. This week, the retail giant announced its efforts to aid in the protection of pollinator populations.

“As delivery has become a staple in our customers’ lives, we’re focused on growing our last mile ecosystem in a way that’s beneficial for everyone – customers, business and the planet,” wrote John Furner, Walmart U.S. chief executive, in a post on the Walmart website.

Read: Walmart moving more workers to full time in retention effort

Consumer companies have increasingly turned their attention and investment dollars to the efficiency of their delivery service. During the past year, customers have relied on delivery for everything from home goods to groceries as COVID-19 limited store operations and restaurant capacity.

“Working from home and a growing desire to shop online are challenging retailers and consumer goods companies to fundamentally rethink how they cater to the pandemic-adapted consumer,” Accenture wrote in a recent report following a global survey of 9,650 consumers.

Even as the vaccine rollout and recovery continues, experts expect that some consumer behaviors are here to stay, including those that emphasize convenience.

“Leading retailers were quick to adapt to the surge in e-commerce and are using technology to serve customers in new ways,” said Jill Standish, head of Accenture’s global retail industry group, in the report.

Also: Lowe’s makes a bigger play for pros with launch of new amenities

“Even in a post-pandemic world, companies will need to satisfy consumers’ appetite for online shopping with fast delivery and get more intentional about the investments they will make in their people, supply chains, physical stores, and digital channels to be well-positioned to drive growth.””

Last month, Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc.
CMG,
+1.02%

announced its investment in Nuro, another autonomous delivery company.

Kroger Co.
KR,
-0.30%

and Ocado
OCDO,
+0.94%

unveiled their first hi-tech facility in Ohio on Wednesday, which will aid in fulfilling customer orders.

See: Kroger launches hi-tech facility as digital competition among grocers heats up

And Home Depot Inc.
HD,
+0.29%

announced on Thursday morning that it will add five distribution facilities by next year to serve just the South Florida area.

Electric vehicles have also been in the spotlight with the IPO of TuSimple, a Tesla Inc.
TSLA,
-0.10%

rival, and a new vehicle from Mercedes-Benz.

Don’t miss: Tesla self-driving truck rival TuSimple raises more than $1 billion in IPO valuing it at $8.5 billion

Walmart stock has slipped nearly 3% for the year to date while the Dow Jones Industrial Average
DJIA,
+0.85%

is up 11% for the period.

Economic Report: U.S. unemployment claims sink 193,000 to pandemic low of 576,000

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