Walmart is expanding its free grocery pickup service – shop online, drive to store, have stuff loaded into your car – to eight additional markets and will roll it out to new regions in the months ahead.
Walmart has tested online grocery shopping combined with local pickup options at a small group of stores around the country, said TechCrunch
. Walmart said its big box footprint nationwide – where 70 percent of the U.S. population lives within five miles from a Walmart stores – gives it an advantage over planned delivery startups from companies like Amazon.
said free grocery pickup services will be available at stores in Charlotte and Fayetteville, North Carolina; Salt Lake City and Ogden, Utah; Nashville; Tucson, Arizona; and Colorado Springs, Colorado.
"We have the locations already in place, and with our website and mobile app expertise, we're able to combine those things in a way that helps our customers save time and still take advantage of our everyday low prices," said Walmart.
"This new, easy shopping experience is an innovation that's helpful for anyone with a busy schedule – particularly moms with small children. They can shop online and choose the pickup time that works for them, and they never have to unbuckle anyone’s seat belt,".
Convenience appears to be the name of the game for retailers, with Reuters
reporting that Target has partnered with Instacart to deliver groceries for $3.99 per order in a pilot project in Minneapolis. Amazon, in the meantime, is already testing its delivery service in Seattle, New York, Philadelphia and California, for a $299 annual fee.
"We are not walking away from delivery," said Michael Bender, chief operating officer of global e-commerce at Walmart. "But right now the focus for us is pickup, driven largely by what our customers are telling us."
Bender said the pickup program appears to be working for Walmart because it allows customers to pinpoint a pickup time, rather than having them set a delivery time.
Neil Stern, of the retail consultancy McMillan-Doolittle, said Walmart's pickup service is a good way for the company to conservatively test the waters cost-wise.
"The economics of pickup are much better for a retailer," said Stern. "Delivering to the home remains costly, even as services like Instacart and Shipt attempt to reinvent the model."
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