Walmart aims to bring more flexible payment to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) customers participating in the SNAP Online Purchasing Pilot.
On Tuesday, the retail giant also announced a special pickup hour at selected locations for older shoppers and those at a higher risk for coronavirus, as well as for emergency personnel.
The SNAP pilot enables food stamps recipients in certain states to shop and pay for groceries online using their electronic benefits transfer (EBT) cards. Last June, Walmart launched a “pay at pickup” option that let families using SNAP benefits pay when they use the retailer’s grocery pickup service in the 3,300 stores where it’s available. Via that feature, customer provide their EBT card for payment when an associate brings the online order to the car.
“We knew it was a big step forward then, but today we know it means even more,” Tom Ward, senior vice president of customer product at Walmart, said in a blog post yesterday. “Customers are relying on us to help get food on their tables, and they are relying on us to keep them safe. Pickup is playing a bigger role than ever in helping us do just that.”
Ward said Walmart is now working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to offer SNAP online purchasing transactions for pickup customers in more states, which currently include Alabama, Arizona, California, Iowa, Nebraska, New York, Oregon and Washington. Over the past month or so, the USDA had expanded the SNAP Online Purchasing Pilot to four more states.
“Through the pilot, customers can complete EBT payments during online checkout instead of at the point of pickup. This eliminates all physical contact between associates and customers who want to use their SNAP benefits. Customers can also use EBT payment during online checkout when they choose the delivery option, where deliveries are available,” Ward explained.
The SNAP Online Purchasing Pilot got under way in April 2019 in New York, with Walmart is providing the service in upstate New York, and Amazon and ShopRite doing so in the New York City area. The program was expanded to Washington (Walmart and Amazon) in January, followed by Alabama, Iowa and Oregon (Walmart and Amazon) in March and then Nebraska (Walmart and Amazon) in early April. Wright’s Markets Inc. also participates in the service in Alabama.
“Customers need us now more than ever, and we’re here for them,” added Ward. “Giving them more options to shop and pay is one way we can help.”
During the coronavirus pandemic, Walmart also is looking to help vulnerable customers with its pickup service.
Until further notice, each day from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. at pickup store locations will be reserved for customers age 60 and older, shoppers with disabilities and anyone designated as high-risk for the virus by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). First responders, too, also can access pickup at that hour.
To use this service, customers will see a new prompt at Walmart.com/grocery that displays the qualifications for selecting the slot listed as “At Risk Only” and allows those eligible to opt in. All other pickup times are open to these shoppers as well. After opting in, customers can begin filling their virtual baskets online or via the Walmart app.
Walmart noted that pickup associates are following social distancing and enhanced sanitation procedures to prevent the spread of coronavirus, and that the point of pickup is contact-free. Customers just open their trunk, and associates load their groceries.
“Now more than ever, families are relying on our pickup service to help get quality, fresh groceries to their homes as safely as possible,” Ward commented. “These are extraordinary times, and we are constantly looking for ways we can help deliver that same peace of mind to all our customers, particularly those who are most at risk.”
Walmart added that although associates are working as fast as possible to restock high-demand products — such as paper goods, milk and cleaning supplies — purchase limits have been set on certain items available through grocery pickup, similar to what the retailer is doing in stores. As of March 19, Walmart stores began limiting purchases of paper products, milk, eggs, cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer, water, diapers, wipes, formula and baby food.
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