Walmart Expands Test of Grocery Delivery

walmartTo Go is a service Walmart is testing to offer delivery and store pickup of the online orders of groceries and smaller items as a way to make shopping more convenient to customers. Higher demand and strong competition of grocery delivery has Walmart expanding its testing to include more cities nationwide.

Customers who order online through the website can choose from most of the selection of groceries found inside the store. Customers can also purchase small items such as electronics, toys, and other household items. Once they pick out the items, they can make the choice on whether they would like to have the items delivered or whether they would like to pick up the items from their nearest Walmart location. Customers can choose among two-hour time slots and are able to choose same-day or next-day delivery.

The only additional charge for customers to use the To Go service is the delivery charge. The price for delivery during testing is $10 or less, while the option to pick up from the store is offered at no charge. Items purchased online are the same price as the items are in the store and Walmart is also offering to match the online prices against the store prices. If an item should go on sale between the time that the customer places the order and the time the order is ready to be delivered, the customer will pay the lower price.

To Go began testing in 2011 in San Jose and San Francisco. In October 2013 testing began in Denver. With similar grocery delivery services growing, Walmart sees the need to offer the service in a wider selection of cities. While they have announced the expansion, which locations will be targeted to test delivering groceries have not yet been revealed.

Amazon and Google are testing out their own grocery delivering services. Amazon offers its Prime Fresh, which for $300 annually will deliver grocery items free for orders over $35. Prime Fresh is currently available in Seattle, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. During testing, Google delivers items from major stores in the Bay Area, free for six months as a trial, and then $4.99 per store the customer orders from after the trial is over.

The largest competition to Walmart, Amazon, and Google is the smaller company Instacart. Instacart utilizes a network of personal shoppers who go out to grocery stores with a list on their smartphones. These personal shoppers can choose alternate items if a product is sold out or they are able to call the customer to figure out the best solution for the customer needs. Because these personal shopper work independently, they are able to deliver most orders in under an hour. Customer service of this magnitude does come at bit of a steeper price. The cost of delivery is low at $3.99 per order, however the item prices are set by Instacart and will not always match the lower price at the actual store of the items being purchased. Instacart is readily available in San Francisco Bay Area, New York City, Chicago, Boston, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Oakland, Berkley, and Los Angeles.

Walmart is already the largest grocery store chain in the nation, and with the expansion of its testing of grocery delivery it is starting to show that it could also take over the online side of the food business. So far the testing areas are responding positively and that could mean a delivery to every door nationwide.

By Raul Hernandez

Sources:
Forbes
Engadget
LATimes

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