Walmart is accelerating the development of a new service designed to deliver products from stores to shoppers’ doorsteps in a two-hour window as more consumers prioritize online spending amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The retail giant has quietly piloted the service in 100 stores since mid-April, and will expand to nearly 1,000 stores in early May. Express Delivery will be available in nearly 2,000 total stores in the following weeks.
Express Delivery enables customers to order across more than 160,000 items from Walmart’s food, consumables and general merchandise assortment such as groceries, everyday essentials, toys and electronics, and rivals Amazon’s popular Prime Now service.
Like its traditional delivery and in-store pickup offerings, Walmart’s Express Delivery will be a non-contact service to reduce shopper anxiety related to the virus, so customers can opt to remain distant from the employees throughout the process. Walmart’s “personal shoppers” will pick customers’ orders within the store, while another employee will deliver the items from the store to shoppers’ door. The service costs $10 on top of the original delivery charge.
Items purchased online will carry the same price as those on the store shelf, so there is no markup depending on the channel.
Creating new ways to deliver products is becoming more of a necessity as stay-at-home shoppers abide by social distancing practices and further demand non-contact interactions. According to a CommerceHub study of 1,500 shoppers, 69 percent say they’d be more willing to subscribe to a delivery service for essential items following the pandemic, while 75 percent said they have searched for an item to purchase online, only to find that it was out of stock.
Kimco Realty deploys curbside pickup
While Walmart implements Express Delivery across its stores, one of North America’s largest mall operators is helping its tenants adapt to changing shopping habits by designating curbside pickup throughout its centers. Kimco Realty will roll out curbside pickup locations at 23 Texas malls, with plans for a nationwide expansion to its 409 shopping centers within the coming days.
The program was initially rolled out to Grand Parkway Marketplace in Spring, Texas, with 60 parking spots designated. From a demand standpoint, the rollout makes plenty of sense, especially as 59 percent of consumers will be more likely to use curbside pickup following the coronavirus outbreak, according to CommerceHub.
And the decision would benefit all retailers participating in l0cations operated by Kimco, whose tenants include Old Navy, Stein Mart, Ross, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Mashalls and DSW. A report from Retail Systems Research (RSR) showed that 62 percent of retail “winners”―retailers with average comparable store/channel sales growth of 4.5 percent―offer curbside pickup, compared to only 48 percent of everyone else. And 70 percent of these winners say a customer’s online order that is picked up in store tends to be more profitable, making curbside all the more necessary to implement once stores start to reopen.
Conor Flynn, Kimco’s CEO, said his tenants have already seen significant results from the curbside deployment, with multiple national retailers within Kimco shopping centers now reporting a 200 percent increase in curbside pickup orders. Flynn hopes this success can trickle down to smaller retailers that haven’t been able to invest in these technologies on their own.
“By formalizing the process and expanding it beyond national retailers to our local mom and pops, we hope to help tenants quickly ramp back up sales as the economy begins to open again,” said Flynn. “Our Curbside Pickup program takes the best practices we have learned from our large national players and shares them with our small business owners, while also adding a level of convenience and comfort for customers who are still eager to support their favorite local establishments.”