retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Time has a piece about Walmart's new Bentonville, Arkansas, experiment - a click-and-collect grocery concept called Walmart Pickup - Grocery that allows consumers to order online and pick up their groceries at a depot attached to a small warehouse.

An excerpt:

"By launching the concept, Walmart joins a long list of grocery services all created with the common goal of basically eliminating the need to 'go' grocery shopping by actually strolling through store aisles. We’re talking about online grocery delivery options from the likes of Amazon and Instacart, as well as drive-thru and pickup services akin to what Walmart is doing, via more established players such as Relay Foods and Peapod, which work with local supermarkets and often also offer delivery. For all of the above, the big selling point is convenience, saving shoppers the time and hassle involved in the boring but necessary task of gathering of groceries.

"Walmart is only testing the service in one location, but the move is noteworthy nonetheless because it’s the world’s largest retailer here dipping its toes into what many see as the future of grocery shopping. And rest assured that Walmart is learning from the experiment, and that if it’s successful, shoppers will see the pickup option spread around the country."

You can see a video about the concept here.
KC's View:
I've read on various sites that there are some analysts out there who are questioning this test, calling it things like a "head-scratcher." But to me, it would only be head-scratching if Walmart were not testing this and similar concepts.

Clearly, Walmart is in a transitional phase right now. You can see it in upper management, as new CEO Doug McMillon seems to be in the process of changing the team to reflect his own sensibilities. (Make no mistake, he's a Walmart guy through and through…but he seems to have a somewhat more modern take on retailing.) And that means trying lots of different things, understanding that some will work and some will not.

If this works - and that admittedly is an "if" - Walmart will be positioned to build these puppies in a lot of parking lots all over the country. It could be a game changer. And it would be foolish for Walmart not to be testing and analyzing all the possibilities…