Walmart and Amazon’s duel for retail dominion is showing little sign of slowing down.
Walmart has thrown the latest punch in the most recent round of block-and-counter between the giants, announcing today its plans to expand its online grocery delivery option to more than 40 percent of U.S. households by the end of the year. The service, available today in six markets, will grow to serve more than 100 metro areas across the country, the company said.
“We’re saving customers time by leveraging new technology and connecting all the parts of our business into a single seamless shopping experience: great stores, easy pickup, fast delivery, and apps and websites that are simple to use,” said Greg Foran, president and CEO of Walmart U.S. “We’re serving our customers in ways that no one else can. Using our size and scale, we’re bringing the best of Walmart to customers across the country.”
Facing intense digital competition from Amazon, Walmart has moved aggressively over the past two years to ramp up its e-commerce efforts and leverage its fleet of physical stores — offering new services such as buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS), an improved product assortment and more enticing in-store experiences.
Powered by its more than 18,0000 personal shoppers and crowd-sourced delivery services, Walmart said it will be able to shop for and deliver fresh groceries to the doorsteps of millions of Americans. The retailer this year also plans to hire thousands of additional personal shoppers who will be required to complete a three-week training program learning how to select “the freshest produce and the best cuts of meat” for online grocery customers.
Walmart’s marked focus on “freshest produce” is likely another signal that it’s countering Amazon’s big grocery push — bolstered by the e-giant’s $13.7 billion Whole Foods buy last year.
Walmart also offers its BOPIS service for groceries — with an added feature that enables guests to stay in their vehicles.
“The service, which has become a customer favorite and touted as a ‘grocery hero’ for moms on the go and time-strapped families, is now available in 1,200 stores, with 1,000 more to be added this year,” Walmart added.
Walmart’s online grocery delivery carries a $9.95 fee and a $30 minimum order — but carries no subscription or price markups, the company said.
“Our commitment goes further than saving customers money,” said Tom Ward, VP of digital operations for Walmart U.S. “Ninety percent of Americans live within 10 miles of a Walmart store, and we serve more than 150 million customers a week, which gives us a unique opportunity to make every day a little easier for busy families.”