TECHNOLOGY

Walmart expands grocery delivery in a big way

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Walmart is giving Amazon and its newest acquisition a run for its money in the online grocery delivery war.

Walmart is expanding its online grocery delivery service to 800 stores by the end of the year, a move that will serve more than 40% of U.S. households. The program, which is currently available in six markets, will grow to serve more than 100 metro areas across the country.

Customers can place orders online or through the Walmart Grocery app. Both options enable shoppers to purchase fresh produce, meat, seafood and bakery items, along with pantry staples, consumables and seasonal general merchandise. All items feature the same prices found in Walmart stores, Tom Ward, VP, digital operations, Walmart U.S., said in a blog on the company’s website.

Personal shoppers and crowd-sourced delivery services are used to shop for and deliver fresh groceries to customers’ doorsteps. More than 18,000 personal shoppers are involved in the program, and “thousands more” will be added this year, according to Walmart.

To participate in the program, associates must complete a three week training program that teaches them how to pick merchandise, including selecting the freshest produce, and the best cuts of meat. More than 800 Walmart stores will be used to fulfill orders, the discounter reported.

The Groceries Delivery service costs $9.95, and requires a $30 minimum order. Orders can also be delivered the same day.

The service is augmented by Walmart’s Online Grocery Pickup service that allows online customers to pick up orders at stores without ever getting out of their cars. The service is now available in 1,200 stores. Another 1,000 locations will be added this year, according to Walmart.

Walmart’s decision to expand its grocery delivery service takes a swing at Amazon as it expands its own grocery delivery service. The online giant announced last month that it launched free, two-hour deliveries of natural and organic products from Whole Foods through its Prime Now program in Atlanta and San Francisco. The service initially launched in January in Austin, Cincinnati, Dallas and Virginia Beach, with plans for continued expansion across the U.S. throughout 2018.

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