Walmart, which is already the leading grocer in the U.S., is testing a Web-based grocery delivery system. The site’s implementation follows the news that Walmart will soon be pushing its Web presence much farther. The New York Times seems skeptical of its potential success, as previous online grocery delivery businesses have failed (one was Webvan, in 2001, and Supervalu folded their online arm in 2009).
We wonder, though, because Walmart is so ubiquitous and they hold such a large share of the market when it comes to groceries, if the move might not just help popularize stocking the pantry over the internet.
While Walmart does offer short-shelf-life food like meat and produce, the behemoth retailer fills shelves with processed, packaged groceries — and that trend is following them online. Case in point: their online store offers twelve kinds of Triscuits, whereas established online grocer Fresh Direct carries two.
What could make Walmart’s delivery system popular, beyond the variety, the low prices, and the massive brand recognition, is that customers might actually welcome ordering all those dry goods that come in bags and boxes. Since it takes things like cereal, pasta sides, and canned goods a long time to go bad, it makes sense for shoppers to order them in bulk, and get the best price. But bulk can be a pain to transport — which is where Walmart’s delivery service could really take off. We’re betting that groceries that can be smashed, juiced, or go bad will be dwarfed by the processed side of the online shopping cart. And because Walmart is known for being an aggressive retailer, we’d expect about the same from its online marketing.