Exclusive: Wal-Mart expands online grocery pickup to eight more cities

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Source:   —  April 13, 2016, at 7:55 AM

The expansion, which includes adding stores in markets where it already has a presence, will expand the no of stores with the service by a third to about two hundred and broaden its footprint to thirty cities, Michael Bender, chief operating officer of Wal-Mart'south e-commerce operations, said in an interview on Monday.

n">Wal-Mart Stores Inc () is expanding free curbside pickup of groceries into eight new cities this mo including KS City and Austin as the retailer gains confidence it can create the strategy work on a larger scale, a senior executive told Reuters.

The expansion, which includes adding stores in markets where it already has a presence, will expand the no of stores with the service by a third to about two hundred and broaden its footprint to thirty cities, Michael Bender, chief operating officer of Wal-Mart'south e-commerce operations, said in an interview on Monday.

Bender said that Wal-Mart was preparing to widen further beyond this move, which could propose the retailer may see to roll out the service to a more sizeable piece of its nearly 4.600 stores across the United States.

"The data we’ve collected gives us confidence that with existing customers we're getting a larger share of their wallet and that'south complemented by new customers we're bringing into the fold," he said. "There will be more so stay tuned."

By focusing on in-store pickup, Wal-Mart is aiming to capitalize on its network of stores, drawing a sharp contrast with Amazon. com (), an online-only retailer which has struggled to discover the right pricing model and is delivering groceries in a handful of cities for a fee.

Other traditional supermarkets are also trying to figure out a profitable way to sell groceries online.

Kroger () offers pickup at forty-seventh locations and more than a one hundred stores in its Harris Teeter chain, a company spokesman said. Kroger charges $4.95 per order after the first three orders. Wal-Mart doesn't have pickup fees.

Bender said customer satisfaction scores in its own surveys from the one hundred fifty stores and twenty-two cities it'd expanded to in Oct were in the mid to high ninety's. He said the service was very favorite among mothers with children who love having groceries delivered to their trunk without having to leave the car.

In addition to KS City, MO and Austin, Texas, Wal-Mart will roll out the service later this mo to choose stores in Boise, Idaho; Richmond and VA Beach, Virginia; Provo, Utah; Daphne, AL and Charleston, South Carolina.

Shoppers can select from about 30.000 to 40.000 mainly grocery items, roughly the same assortment as in stores. After ordering and paying online, customers drive to the store at a designated time and a "personal shopper" - a new position that's been added to handle the job - brings the groceries to your car.

The thrust in online grocery dovetails with a $2.7 billion investment that Wal-Mart has made over two years into boosting worker salary and in training, steps that it hopes will make better its customer service and translate into higher sales.

Bender said the "personal shoppers" are getting to know their customers, such as how ripe they love their bananas, and sees grocery pickup as one way to "assistance modify the perception of the service at Wal-Mart."

(reporting by Nathan Layne in San Bruno, California; Editing by Bernard Orr)

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