Wal-Mart expands its grocery pickup offering

30 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Target Expands Online Price-Match Policy to Include Amazon, Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart is the nation’s largest grocer, so it’s no surprise that the retail giant is piloting a variety of ways to make online ordering part of your routine for stocking your pantry and fridge. Just ahead of the ultimate showdown in retail competition, the holiday season, Target is expanding its price-matching policy to include 29 online competitors, including Sam’s Club and Costco, the retailer said Wednesday.The discounter said it will now match prices on goods sold by Amazon.com, Walmart.com and Costco and Sam’s Club — a move that could save shoppers plenty just as the holiday shopping season is about to begin in earnest.

The retailer had excluded Target.com purchases from its policy that lets customers get a better deal if they show that someone else is selling the same item for less. The company is testing home grocery delivery and even an option in which you can pick up pre-ordered groceries from a temperature-controlled truck in, say, your office park or neighborhood. Previously shoppers at Target stores could go online to check for lower prices at only five online retailers — Amazon.com, Walmart.com, BestBuy.com, ToysRUs.com and BabiesRUs.com — to get the same deal. But of all these experiments, the retailer says it’s gaining particular traction with an option that allows customers to place orders online and then pick them up curbside at a nearby Wal-Mart store.

Now before buying — and up to 14 days afterward with Target’s new policy, up from seven days previously — customers can surf for deals at those sites plus Costco.com, Macy’s.com, Staples.com, BedBathBeyond.com, CVS.com and 19 others to find the best deals, and Target will match them. That’s why the retailer announced this week that it is expanding that store pick-up program to eight additional markets, a bet that this hybrid digital-physical shopping experience is one of Wal-Mart’s best paths for competing in the crowded online grocery business. Wal-Mart, the brick-and-mortar retail giant with an increasing online presence, has long had Target.com on its price-match list, but Target has not offered to match Wal-Mart previously. In fighting for shoppers’ dollars with the likes of Google Express, Amazon Fresh and several smaller start-ups, Wal-Mart is trying to take advantage of its massive network of 4,597 U.S. stores to gain an edge over the online-only efforts. Wal-Mart’s free pick-up program is rolling out in Atlanta, Nashville, Tucson, Charlotte, and other metropolitan areas in the coming weeks, and the company pledges that it will add even more markets soon.

It is also aiming to steal business — and market share — from rivals, according to CEO Brian Cornell, who was named to the top spot 15 months ago. The prices shoppers pay for their curbside groceries will be the same as what they’d pay in a Wal-Mart brick-and-mortar store, and orders placed before 10 a.m. are eligible to be picked up the same day. “It allows the customer to engage with the brand along the pattern of the way that they live their lives,” Bender said. “You contrast that to a delivery model where you’re essentially tethered to your home for whatever period of time that’s attached to that delivery window,” Bender said, and some customers might find picking the order up themselves to be more efficient. Under the new price-matching policy, consumers looking for such an item could save more than $80 by telling Target that the same bike is sold on Amazon for $319. AAA Energizer batteries were 50 cents cheaper on Amazon than on Target’s website and a pair of men’s Georgia Boot work boots, priced at $99.99 at Target — pre-price match — could cost you 25 percent less once you told Target that Amazon was selling them for $74.21. “These are simple changes, but they mean a lot for our guests,” Jason Goldberger, president of Target.com, told a packed room of 13,000 store managers at a recent meeting held in Minneapolis, according to the AP.

The new policy is meant to create a more seamless experience for customers and to better compete in specific categories, such as drugstores, wholesale clubs and furniture, says Jenna Reck, a Target spokeswoman. “As we’ve seen our online business grow and we’ve seen that be so price competitive, it’s just important to transfer this to online as well so you’re getting one experience whether you’re shopping in stores or Target.com,” she says. Target’s latest change in policy follows the lead of Walmart, Best Buy and Staples, all of which match their online prices with online rivals, the AP reported. Even with recent successes and adoption of online-friendly policies, the question remains over whether Target can compete with large rivals Amazon and Wal-Mart. And it’s not clear yet whether this will simply change the buying process for existing customers or whether it will actually bring incremental spending and new shoppers to Wal-Mart’s grocery business. In its early days, the retailer has seen 85 percent of pickup customers end up becoming repeat users, which suggests that if it can convince people to give it a try, it has a good shot of making them converts.

Price has become an all-important selling point for retailers as online competition increases and more consumers turn to their phones and the Web to comparison shop. Neither brick-and-mortar retailer, however, has offered a competitive equivalent to Amazon’s “Amazon Prime” membership, which offers free 2-day shipping nationwide, along with other perks. Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN.

Standard & Poor’s and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. Though Amazon.com is considered a major competitor, Target doesn’t have as significant an overlap with the online retailing giant as some other retailers in at least one category. According to data from Boomerang Commerce Inc., Target.com overlapped with Amazon.com on just 77 of 1,200 consumer electronics items surveyed, compared with 240 at Walmart.com.

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