In a statement, theBentonville, Arkansas-based retail giant claimed that the expansion of its same-day home delivery service from six markets to 100 metropolitan areas will enable it to serve more than 40 percent of USA households. Those stores will be the first to introduce the program, Tom Ward, the vice president of Walmart's digital operations in the USA, said on a call with members of the media. It will offer shoppers same-day delivery of fresh produce, meat and seafood, along with non-perishable items. The online retailer has already started offering free, two-hour deliveries of Whole Foods groceries in a handful of markets to its Prime customers. Amazon recently offered home delivery via Whole Foods in six cities, along with Amazon Fresh and other delivery options. Other retailers such as Kroger and Target have been partnering with third-party providers such as Instacart, Deliv and Shipt.
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Despite the increased money and attention from retailers, online grocery remains a tiny part of the roughly $800 billion grocery business in the US.
That means both Amazon and Walmart have a lot of potential business they could move online in future years - if consumer behaviors eventually change. The service uses personal shoppers to select items and then take them to shoppers' cars parked outside. For now, younger shoppers tend to buy more groceries online, but the large majority shop in stores, Cowen said. No subscription is required.
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Carol Spieckerman, a retail consultant and president of Spieckerman Retail, said the grocery delivery expansion should give Walmart an opportunity to "forge relationships with new customers", especially those who value convenience but don't want to navigate the retailer's stores.
Amazon is now rolling out free two-hour delivery of Whole Foods groceries in six cities to Prime members who pay $99 a year.
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"Walmart must expand its delivery capabilities if it is to remain a contender against Amazon and lead the pack against all the rest", Spieckerman said.