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Walmart’s mobile-enabled grocery ordering drives repeat visits, prompting expansion

As Walmart continues to expand its online grocery-ordering test to new markets, the mobile-enabled service is helping the retailer drive repeat business and support customer satisfaction.

This week, Walmart expanded its test of online ordering for groceries, bringing it to three stores in Phoenix for the first time. With customers able to browse and place orders directly from their smartphones, the service promises to significantly simply finishing chores on the weekend for families.

“What used to take two hours on the weekend, now customers are able to get that done in five to ten minutes,” said Ravi Jariwala, San Francisco-based direct of public relations at Walmart. “The time savings is a really key benefit; the savings you get with shopping at Walmart is another benefit.

“From a mobile standpoint, we know that our customers are increasingly looking for easy ways to shop,” he said. “They can build their orders from their smartphones, come to the store during the designated pickup time, park in a designated spot and an associate will bring their order out to their car.”

Click-and-collect ordering
Walmart launched click-and-collect grocery ordering last fall, enabling customers to order groceries online from a mobile device or desktop computer and retrieve their orders the same-day from a drive-up facility.

Another test that has been going on for longer provides home delivery of general merchandise and grocery orders placed online in certain markets.

The strategy points to the growing number of consumers who bypassing the grocery store to order what they need online. A growing percentage of these orders are taking place on mobile devices.

Anywhere from 20 to 35 percent of online grocery orders are coming from mobile, according MyWebGrocer, which offers an ecommerce, platform for grocery chains. On the MyWebGrocer platform, mobile shoppers place orders more frequently than desktop-only shoppers (see story).

Omnichannel shopping
The growing grocery ordering program from Walmart also points to how the retailer is levering mobile to support omnichannel shopping experiences that enable shoppers to decide what device to use to fulfill their shopping needs depending on their location and context.

With Walmart’s program, the prices shoppers pay online are the same as in the store.

Results from some of the markets where Walmart has been testing online grocery ordering point to how beneficial consumers find these types of services.

Walmart reports that in San Jose, nearly 75 percent say they would purchase through another retailer if the service were not available. In Denver, 80 percent of those using the service are repeat customers. And, in Bentonville, 90 percent of customers have rated the service as outstanding or above average.

One of the ways that Walmart could booth mobile aspects of the program and further enhance the experience would be to enable customers to text the pickup center when they have arrived so their order can be brought to their car.

Sears updated its Shop Your Way app last year to enable customers to inform the In-Vehicle Pickup team when they have arrived so they can pick up, return or exchange an item from their car within five minutes (see story).

“Mobile gives our customers another way to access Walmart on the go,” Mr. Jariwala said. “That is not just true of Walmart grocery, but is also true of how customers shop other Walmart brands.

“Whether it be mobile pharmacy, or new things like the Search My Store functionality we added toward the end of last year, these are all ways that we can continue to build a digital relationship with our customers by giving them features that help them shop Walmart and navigate what they want in a much faster and easier way,” he said.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is senior editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York