Wal-Mart Tries Web Grocery

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Wal-Mart Stores views its single-store test here of online grocery ordering and delivery as a long-term initiative that is part of a much broader effort to connect with consumers via modern technology, Mike Duke, chief executive officer of the retail giant, said during a presentation last week. We see mobile technology, social networking communication, e-commerce, as just going to

SAN JOSE, Calif.Wal-Mart Stores [4] views its single-store test here of online grocery ordering and delivery as a “long-term initiative” that is part of a much broader effort to connect with consumers via modern technology, Mike Duke, chief executive officer of the retail giant, said during a presentation last week.

“We see mobile technology, social networking communication, e-commerce, as just going to be a part of commerce,” he said, speaking at a breakfast meeting in New York hosted by the Wall Street Journal. “It's not different channels — it's just the way customers will shop in the future.”

The new e-grocery service, called Walmart To Go, debuted April 23 in a handful of ZIP Codes in the San Jose area, offering a wide array of product, including a limited selection of fresh fruits and vegetables, most of which is pre-packaged. The site also lists pre-packaged meats, dairy products, shelf-stable grocery, frozen foods, HBC products, baby care needs and household items.

The test follows the recent launch of Pick Up Today, which allows customers to order product online that Wal-Mart has in its stores and then pick it up themselves.

At the San Jose store where the e-grocery test is taking place, Wal-Mart is picking the groceries from a single store and delivering them itself in its own trucks, according to reports.

The home page of the site and individual product category pages display items on sale — under the headings “Special Offers” and “Rollbacks” — first, followed by the full listings of offerings. In addition, a tab on the navigation bar allows customers to select a listing of all products available as Special Offers. More than 1,200 SKUs were listed there last week.

Duke said Wal-Mart's deeper foray into Web-based retailing comes as its shoppers around the world have incorporated mobile technologies and social media at breakneck pace into their shopping experience.

“Technology is becoming much more available to a wider group of people around the world,” he said. “I see customers using technology to compare prices in the store. Customers are much more informed about the way they spend their money. Price transparency is more important than ever.”

Consumers are sharing information instantly with each other about prices, he said.

“That's a dynamic area that's changed, in terms of sharing information about where I spend money and what I buy,” Duke explained in his presentation at a breakfast hosted by the Wall Street Journal. “That's an important area Wal-Mart is involved in.”