Announced in a company blog post , Wal-Mart Stores Inc ( WMT ) is debuting a free pick-up service for online grocery orders in order to compete with other players in the e-commerce and online grocery businesses like Amazon ( AMZN ) and its Prime Fresh service, Target ( TGT ) and its recent partnership with Instacart, and Google ( GOOG ) and its Google Express delivery service.
The pick-up service will be available at select stores in new markets, including Atlanta, Georgia; Charlotte and Fayetteville, North Carolina; Salt Lake City and Ogden, Utah; Nashville, Tennessee; Tucson, Arizona; and Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Using Walmart's new grocery perk is relatively simple: customers are able to shop online and then choose a convenient time to pick up the groceries at their local store. Employees are then on hand to load groceries into your car in a designated parking area for the pick-up service. EVP and Chief Operating Officer of Walmart Global eCommerce Michael Bender touted the service as having "the convenience of a personal trained shopper."
Bender continues, "We're excited to make this new option available to even more of our customers, and to use our existing assets in a way that offers not only convenience, but another great way to save." Walmart plans to add more stores in other markets soon.
Online grocery shopping and delivery is a booming industry, one in which Walmart is smart to aggressively stake a claim in. It's worth $10.9 billion, and is expected to grow 9.6 percent annually through 2019, according to a report by market research firm IbisWorld.
The retail giant has one important thing going for them, the one thing that Amazon, arguably Walmart's biggest competitor in this arena, does not have: a brick-and-mortar foundation that allows customers to shop and pick-up at a store. If this venture is successful for Walmart, the company could very well see their slumping sales turn around.