(Bloomberg)—Walmart Stores Inc. has brought its online grocery delivery service to two more cities, extending a program that could attract new customers as it battles Amazon.com Inc. and bricks-and-mortar rivals.
Walmart, No. 3 in the Internet Retailer 2017 Top 500 Guide, is expanding the service to Orlando and Dallas in a partnership with Uber Technologies Inc., whose drivers will make the home deliveries. A Walmart spokeswoman says the company now works with Uber in four markets, including Phoenix and Tampa, and also runs same-day online grocery delivery using its own delivery system in Denver and San Jose.
Shoppers pay a $9.95 delivery fee to use the service, which is charged when they check out online. A Walmart spokeswoman says the retailer employs personal shoppers who have gone through a three week training program specifically designed to educate them on how to pick the best produce for customers.
The move is the latest step in Walmart’s broader e-commerce push, which includes curbside grocery pickup in more than 900 locations and two-day free shipping on millions of items. It also comes just a week after German discounter Aldi unveiled grocery home delivery in Dallas and two other U.S. cities, and two days before Whole Foods Market Inc. shareholders are expected to approve the company’s $13.7 billion sale to Amazon (No.1).
Groceries account for more than half of Walmart’s revenue, and the business saw its best sales in five years last quarter. Only 4.5% of shoppers made frequent online grocery purchases in 2016, up slightly from 4.2% four years earlier despite big investments from companies such as Walmart and Amazon, according to TABS Analytics, a consumer products research firm.
But those who do order their groceries online spend more, Walmart has found. In places like Denver, the service has attracted new customers who never shopped at the retailer before.
“We’re working hard to find a way to get you fresh, quality groceries all while keeping a little more time on your calendar,” Mike Turner, vice president of e-commerce operations, said in a blog post on the company’s website.
Walmart shares rose 0.6% to $79.82 at 11:57 a.m. in New York.