It's usually only schoolchildren that settle their differences with a scuffle in the cafeteria, but if Walmart has any say, the retail giant could be picking the world's biggest food fight with Amazon.
In an age when Amazon continues to expand its ambitious grocery delivery service, Fortune magazine reported that Walmart is expanding its free in-store, same-day pickup service for grocery orders placed online. As of Oct. 13, shoppers in Atlanta, Georgia; Charlotte and Fayetteville, North Carolina; Salt Lake City and Ogden, Utah; Nashville, Tennessee; Tucson, Arizona; and Colorado Springs, Colorado, will be able to order online and stock their pantries with Walmart's curbside pickup service, which many experts see as an initial volley in an upcoming fight with Amazon over grocery delivery.
Michael Bender, executive vice president and COO for Walmart's global eCommerce, told Tech Crunch that the decision to offer curbside pickup and not delivery was made in light of the customer base of its most successful stores.
“The majority of what we see coming and the focus of the Walmart customer base is largely women – that’s what we have a lot of," Bender said. "We see a lot of women with kids in car seats, who are moving from place to place throughout the day."
Walmart's full-court press on food sales isn't so surprising when you realize that the all-in-one retailer attributes 56 percent of U.S. sales to its grocery department. Protecting those profits from the encroaching moves of Amazon and even Target could be a matter of survival for Walmart. In fact, Tech Crunch reported that Walmart is hiring full-time personal shoppers to ensure that customers' orders are processed correctly and shoppers leave with a positive experience of the pickup service.
“Each time we’ve added a new city, our customers begin using the service faster than they did in the previous one,” Bender told Fortune.
The race is on in Walmart's expansion cities — at least until Amazon gets there, too.
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