Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, is rapidly ramping up its digital grocery shopping service, which allows shoppers to purchase online, schedule a delivery or pick up groceries at their local Walmart. eMarketer’s Patricia Orsini spoke with Ravi Jariwala, senior director of public relations and corporate communications for Walmart eCommerce, about why shoppers are using the service, what the barriers to customer adoption are and how Walmart is addressing those potential friction point
eMarketer: What’s pushing shoppers to buy groceries online?
Ravi Jariwala: This is a service that really puts time back in their day. Between loading up the kids in the car, doing the grocery shopping, getting through checkout and packing the groceries into the car—that can take up to 2 hours on a busy weekend. Our shoppers are finding that entire trip is being condensed down to just a few minutes.
eMarketer: How many markets is Walmart grocery pickup in?
Jariwala: We started testing online grocery in one market, in one store in Northern California in 2011. At the start of fall 2015, we were testing in five markets. Based on incredibly strong customer response, we began expanding rapidly. In 2016, we expanded to about 500 stores. Today, we offer online grocery pickup in more than 600 stores across the US, across 100 different markets. We are going to continue that rapid pace of expansion to roughly another 500 stores in 2017.“Today, we offer online grocery pickup in more than 600 stores across the US, across 100 different markets.”
eMarketer: What markets is Walmart in? Is it more urban or suburban?
Jariwala: Some are really large metro areas, like Atlanta and Houston. And some are small towns like Daphne, Alabama, and Ogden, Utah.
eMarketer: Are there reasons why shoppers might not want to buy groceries online?
Jariwala: Price, trust and selection are three potential barriers that create friction for shoppers.
eMarketer: How is Walmart addressing the concerns of shoppers who are reluctant to let someone choose their fresh produce and meats for them?
Jariwala: “Do I trust someone to shop for me?” is a hurdle. We made a very deliberate decision to reduce this friction. We have dedicated personal shoppers who go through extensive training to learn how to shop for meat, for produce, as if they were shopping for themselves.
These associates are dedicated to online grocery. The training [personal shoppers] go through is incredibly important. For example, simple things, like being able to identify if the avocado is ripe.