Walmart has brought online grocery shopping to Kentucky, with Lexington, Georgetown and Nicholasville stores the first to offer the service in the state.
The Hamburg store at 2350 Grey Lag Way went live with online grocery ordering on July 13. So far, the store is averaging about 10 orders a day; the Georgetown store is doing about 20 a day, according to Walmart officials.
The service, which is available through grocery.walmart.com or through the Walmart Grocery app, lets customers choose from about 30,000 items that will be compiled into an order for curbside pickup. Customers can customize orders with instructions such as to use reusable bags. If an item isn’t available, the store will make a substitution that the customer can approve or reject at pickup.
Customers can set a time for pickup. Orders placed before 10 a.m. can be picked up the same day, from 4 to 8 p.m. Other orders are available within 24 hours.
Items available include grocery and other “consumables” such as cleaning products, but not alcohol other than beer and malt beverages.
Eventually, said Karlos Scott, Walmart e-commerce market coach for Kentucky, the store hopes to integrate grocery and other purchases, which are currently possible through Walmart.com.
Online ordering is designed to keep Walmart relevant and competitive with Amazon and Kroger, he said.
Kroger launched online shopping in Lexington in January. Major differences between the two: Kroger allows customers to use coupons at pickup, while Walmart’s online service does not.
Kroger charges a fee of about $5 per order with no minimum size, while Walmart requires a minimum $30 order but there is no charge to use online ordering.
As with Amazon, Walmart’s site will suggest items at checkout that might be appealing based on what you’ve placed in your shopping cart, he said. Bought chips? Need salsa to go with that?
Store assistant manager for online groceries Cody Easterling demonstrated how the orders are compiled: after it’s placed, the order is divided among sections of the store. Individual selectors are responsible for produce, meat, frozen items, canned and dry goods, etc. They pull together items for up to eight orders at a time based on location. Cold items are placed back in refrigerated or freezer areas within 15 minutes, he said, so ice cream never gets to soft. Special instructions such as “only green bananas” are attached to each order so selectors can match expectations.
The online ordering system also will let customers’ track “favorites” to make repeat shopping easier.
The online grocery segment has boomed in the last year. Last fall, Walmart launched it in 13 markets, after test runs in a few places. Now, 300 stores all over the country have it, with more than 500 planned by the end of the year.
Scott said the target market is “busy moms,” parents with small children and those special needs such mobility issues.
But the service also is proving popular with businesses such as day cares, gyms, assisted living communities and extended-stay hotels, he said.