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Walmart tests online grocery shopping

31 January 2014

Grocery shopping from the couch could soon be a reality, as the world's largest retailer, Bentonville-based Walmart, tests out a new feature.

Walmart tests online grocery shoppingThe feature called Walmart To Go, allows users to select their groceries online, then choose between home delivery or free pickup at a local store. The feature is still in the testing stage, and available in Denver, Colorado currently.

According to the company, some of the features of the current Walmart To Go program in Denver, include tens of thousands of grocery and general merchandise items, including fresh produce, meat and seafood, frozen and bakery, electronics and toys being available under the system.

There is no mark up and the same low prices are available online and in-store.

Free Pickup is available at around a dozen Denver Walmart stores, with more local stores to be added in the coming weeks.

Walmart To Go trucks, equipped with separate frozen, fresh and ambient storage compartments make the deliveries.

Meanwhile, the world's largest retailer is also turning to grocery stores, and in San Diego County, two Walmart Neighborhood Markets opened in Oceanside and Escondido, doubling the number of these stores in the county. Two more are on the way.

CNBC quoted San Diego State Universty marketing professor Michael Belch as saying Walmart expanding its grocery stores was good for consumers as it would increase competition in the local neighbourhoods.

CNBC said Walmart had plans for adding 400 more Neighborhood Markets by fiscal year 2017, while at the same time plans were being finalised for adding another 300 super centres.

According to Walmart store manager Samuel Long customers were looking for grocery store alternatives.

The Walmart Neighborhood Market has an appearance similar to most large grocery stores selling fresh produce, frozen goods, meat, dairy and dry goods.  There would also be some health and beauty products, cleaning supplies and a pharmacy.

According to commentators, part of Walmart's strategy to expand its grocery stores might be to avoid online competition.  While online retail giant Amazon had been able to dent some of Walmart's business, groceries had failed to be a big online draw.

Belch said perishables required a local store presence was needed.

Walmart, though is finding a way to combine its grocery store and online website. Customers can order merchandise online with delivery at no charge to a Neighborhood Market for pick-up.

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