Wal-Mart service tests for online purchase of food

Wal-Mart began testing a service online grocery delivery, called Wal-Mart to Go, in the San Jose, California.

The company has expanded its online options, including a national rollout of a service that allows customers to order goods (nonfood) online and pick it up in the store that day. Although this program aims to get customers into stores more often, it creates a more convenient way to buy from Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart declined to make executives available for interviews on the test store, which began Saturday. In early March, when asked about the possibility of a service online grocery ordering, Steve Nave, senior vice president and general manager of Walmart.com, would not discuss details.

"One of the great things about Wal-Mart is that we'll put something there, try and learn from him," he said. "I would say that nothing is off limits."

other grocers, including Safeway and Peapod, which is affiliated with Giant Food, offer a similar service. Choose groceries via a website, select a delivery time and groceries are deposited to your home. Fresh Direct and AmazonFresh, neither of which are managed by grocers bricks and mortar, also offer a grocery delivery service.

But some grocers have said he is not a good use of resources. Supervalu, for example, has stopped offering the online grocery delivery in 2009, saying that most customers prefer to buy food from a store. And one of the most famous dot-com bust was Webvan, a grocery delivery service that went bankrupt in 2001.

The shipping costs for Wal-Mart to Go start at $ 5.

For the test, Wal-Mart is shipping in a grocery store in San Jose, pack them into tote bags and deliver them in temperature-controlled trucks that the company owns. Deliveries can be scheduled for tomorrow.

Currently, groceries available lean prepackaged products. Customers can not order beef with specifications, for example - they must buy pre-cut meat in a range of packages. And in the category of producing, while mangoes and bananas are available fresh, oranges and lemons come in bags of several books rather than individually.

His prices are competitive. One box of 64 ounces of milk Horizon was $ 3.50 on the site of Wal-Mart, at $ 3.99 and $ 4.29 on Peapod Fresh Direct.

sixteen ounces of celery at Wal-Mart to Go was $ 1.98, where 16 oz of celery Peapod was $ 3.29 and $ 3.49 Fresh Direct.

On food shelf as crackers and sweets, Wal-Mart had a choice - it sells 12 varieties of Triscuit, for example, against 10 to Peapod and two at Fresh Direct.

Wal-Mart is the largest grocer in the country - estimated by Janney Capital Markets, has about 33 percent market share in the United States. Kroger has 9 percent, 5 percent Safeway, Supervalu 4 percent and 3 percent goal, according to Janney. And groceries up more than half of U.S. sales Wal-Mart, except for figures of Sam's Club.

Craig Johnson, president of consultancy Customer Growth Partners, said the move made sense.

Wal-Mart stores are popular for large stock-up trips, not for on-the-go grocery shopping, he said, and delivery could help to resolve this issue.

Yet Wal-Mart would need to address issues such as how to deliver groceries on a larger scale (using its own trucks? Rental fleet? Use UPS?), And how to manage and preserve the safety of prepared foods like sandwiches or meals ready-to-be as basic foodstuffs, Mr. Johnson said.

"These operations are not simple to implement cost-effective manner, as Webvan and many others have found over the years," he said.