Online grocery delivery boom

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BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Wal­mart announced that it is expanding its online grocery delivery service to 100 metropolitan areas by the end of the year, making the service available to more than 40% of U.S. ­households. The move represents an escalation of the competition among some of the nation’s largest retailers to develop a viable online grocery service catering to customers who want to buy groceries from the comfort of their living rooms.

Walmart’s announcement came as rivals Kroger Co. and BJ’s Wholesale Club Inc. were expanding partnerships with Instacart for grocery deliveries.

“We’re thrilled to bring same-day delivery to BJ’s shoppers,” said Rafeh Masood, senior vice president and chief digital officer for BJ’s Wholesale Club. “BJ’s is focused on delivering unbeatable value and convenience to our members; the expanded partnership with Instacart gives members a new and easy way to shop the club without leaving their home.”

Walmart said customers using its Online Grocery Delivery service must order at least $30 worth of goods and pay an additional delivery fee of $9.95. They can receive their purchases in as little as four hours if they put in the request by 1 p.m.

Customers visit the company’s website or grocery app to place orders. One of Walmart’s 18,000 personal shoppers then gathers the selected items in stores.

Each of those employees undergoes a three-week training program that teaches them how to pick the best meat and produce, the company said.

Orders will be fulfilled at more than 800 stores nationwide and delivered to customers by drivers contracted through crowd-sourced delivery services, such as Uber.

“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 chief executive officer 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.”

Walmart expects that the expanded delivery service will prompt bigger, more fre-
quent orders and bring in new ­customers.

Kroger announced plans to expand its grocery delivery coverage area in 2018 by adding 500 stores and curbside pickup locations. Kroger currently partners with San Francisco-based Instacart to deliver merchandise from more than 872 stores across the country.

Kroger also has 1,091 curbside pickup locations.

“As part of Restock Kroger, we are investing in redefining our customers’ grocery shopping experience by bringing online and offline seamlessly together,” said Yael Cosset, Kroger’s chief digital officer. “Having grown our digital sales in 2017 by 90%, we continue to accelerate our digital road map in 2018 to make shopping with Kroger simpler and more personalized.”

Kroger said it plans to continue to expand its coverage area and enhance its digital shopping experience, which customers access via the company’s website or its mobile app.

“When you look at Kroger’s customer coverage area for seamless shopping, two-thirds of our customers — more than 40 million households — have access to curbside pickup and/or delivery,” added Cosset. “Our goal is for these convenient services to be available to every customer.”

BJ’s Wholesale Club said earlier this month that expansion of its partnership with Instacart initially would offer same-day delivery in cities along the East Coast, and that the company plans to expand it to members of BJ’s Clubs nationwide by the end of April.

Club members who place orders through the website will receive members-only pricing, with groceries costing 25% less than average supermarket pricing, the company said.



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