With more customers making grocery and other purchases online, Walmart aims to make it easier for them to get their orders faster.
The Bentonville, Ark.-based retail giant said Monday that it’s dropping the $35 minimum order requirement for its 10-month-old Express delivery service. Piloted last April and rolled out last May. Express offers home delivery for a wide assortment of groceries and other products from Walmart in less than two hours.
Express delivery costs $10 in addition to the existing delivery fee, Walmart said. Members of the Walmart+ customer benefits program pay only the $10 fee for Express service. In December, Walmart had removed the $35 order minimum for Walmart+ members for a range of items, excluding groceries.
“Many customers use Express delivery for when they’re in a pinch, whether it be a missing ingredient for a weeknight dinner or a pack of diapers,” Tom Ward, senior vice president of customer product at Walmart, said in a statement. “Customers told us sometimes the items they needed in a hurry didn’t meet the minimum, so we’re removing it, making it even easier for customers to get what they need when they need it.”
Currently, Express delivery is available through almost 3,000 Walmart stores, with the service accessible to nearly 70% of the U.S. population, according to Walmart.
Customers using the service can shop from more than 160,000 items, including food and beverages, groceries and daily essentials as well as general merchandise, toys and electronics. Orders are picked by Walmart’s team of 170,000 personal shoppers, and — like the retailer’s other pickup and delivery services — items are priced the same as in stores, with no online markup, the company noted.
Express delivery is accessed via the Walmart mobile app or online at walmart.com/grocery. Customers enter their ZIP code to find out if the service is offered in their area.
The $35 minimum order size remains in effect for Walmart’s free curbside pickup service; standard delivery service, which carries a $7.95 or $9.95 fee per delivery; and Walmart+ delivery of groceries and similar items, with free unlimited delivery for a $98 annual or $12.95 monthly fee.
Walmart+ launched in mid-September. For the yearly or monthly fee, the program offers members unlimited free delivery from stores, fuel discounts and an array of shopping tools. Walmart+ incorporates Delivery Unlimited, a subscription-based grocery delivery service launched in the fall of 2019 that offered unlimited free deliveries on orders of $30 or more for an annual $98 fee or a monthly $12.95 fee.
Last week, Walmart reported that e-commerce sales jumped 69% for its fiscal 2021 fourth quarter and 79% for the full year. President and CEO Doug McMillon told analysts in a conference call that the company will build on the online shopping momentum triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Beyond the pandemic, our e-commerce business will continue to grow at a fast pace. We expect our e-commerce sales globally to be over $100 billion in the next couple of years,” he said.
To that end, Walmart is stepping up investment in automation and online capacity “to position ourselves to earn the primary destination position with customers,” McMillon explained.
“We are absolutely playing offense here,” he noted. “Customers can choose to visit a store, pick up their order, have it delivered, have it delivered into a secure box on their front step, into a garage refrigerator, or all the way into their kitchen, even when they're not at home. When you hear us say ‘delivery,’ define that as the combination of delivery from our stores, clubs and e-commerce fulfillment centers. Our customers and members are indifferent as to whether their delivered items come from a store or an FC [fulfillment center].”
And Walmart+ has a pivotal role to play in driving the company’s omnichannel growth strategy. “The combination of stores and e-commerce is a winner,” McMillon said in the call. “We have demand and need more space earlier than we had planned a year ago. Given that delivery is a key driver of Walmart+, we need more capacity to grow Walmart+ with a high Net Promoter score.”
He added, “Big picture, think of our U.S. supply chain with hundreds of distribution and fulfillment centers, thousands of stores and clubs so close to so many people, functioning in a hybrid fashion, automated where they should be based on volumes, and complemented with on-site market fulfillment centers or off-site MFCs where we see incremental demand.”