- In its biggest push yet for online ordering and curbside pickup, Walmart premiered a commercial during Sunday night's Golden Globes show on NBC featuring famous cars from iconic films screeching into the parking lot. The campaign will spread to radio, social media, online videos and in-store advertising, CMO Barbara Messing wrote in a company blog post.
- The world's largest retailer has previously advertised its pickup service on TV, but this time partnered with Hollywood studios to use "instantly recognizable" cars, added Messing, such as the Batmobile, Scooby Doo's Mystery Machine and the iconic Back to the Future DeLorean time machine spinning slowly down from the sky.
- Walmart's free curbside pickup, available at more than 2,100 locations covering nearly 70% of U.S. households, requires a $30 minimum purchase. The retailer hopes to surpass 3,000 pickup and 1,600 delivery locations by the end of fiscal 2020.
The commercial spot acted as a launch pad for what should shape up to be a huge year for Walmart's grocery business overall. In December, Packaged Facts determined that grocery and consumables comprised a majority of the company’s sales. Though nearly 40% of surveyed consumers chose Amazon for online grocery orders, Walmart came in second with 23%.
Target, meanwhile, has expanded its Drive Up service to about 1,000 locations and will boost its same-day delivery through Shipt to more than 200 U.S. markets in 46 states. According to TechCrunch, the retailer also recently announced plans to expand its same-day Shipt service to "all major product categories."
The expansion will make the competitive online marketplace even tighter as Amazon, Walmart and Target compete with Costco and other bulk retailers, which are simultaneously facing upstarts such as Boxed.
In short, more players have entered the game with a vengeance, and Walmart took proper haste in developing a sophisticated online platform — and the customer service to complement it. Walmart first tested online ordering and curbside pickup at a single Northern California store in 2011, slowly adding four markets by 2015, Raji Jariwala, the company’s e-commerce communications director, told eMarketer in 2017. He emphasized the customer experience as key to convincing customers to take the online-to-pickup plunge. Dedicated associates pick and pack online orders, and deliver them to customers, ideally nurturing a personal relationship similar to old neighborhood stores.
At 11.1% of the online grocery market, Walmart was on pace to topple Amazon's 12.5% by the end of last year, after years of heavy investment in e-commerce. Amazon led 2017 online grocery sales with $2 billion, but Walmart tagged close behind with $1.78 billion, per a Deutsche Bank report.
With an average store size of 105,000 square feet, it might seem risky to give customers reasons to not shop in-store. But Jariwala insisted to eMarketer that Walmart isn't worrying about that kind of cannibalization — at least not yet. "This is about bringing together the best of Walmart digitally and physically, and then setting up an experience that allows customers to choose what is best for them," he said.
Nor is Walmart stopping in the parking lot. The Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer has also partnered with Ford and Postmates in driverless delivery, launched a pickup only location outside Chicago and opened a high-tech grocery distribution center in California.