How Walmart online grocery business is reinventing the wheels and staving off Amazon

May 20, 2019 • By Penelope Torres

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Walmart is reinventing the wheels of its online grocery strategy to remain a strong competitor for Amazon.

Recently, the retailer declared its intention to partner with Google to introduce a fresh grocery order technology where customers can place their order through voice command. Shoppers will say "Hello Google, talk to Walmart”, to start listing products to their grocery cart.

If the customer does not clearly specify what they want for example "add strawberry to my cart", the technology will execute the request based on the customer's purchase history. (1)

Obviously, the next frontier Walmart is hoping to combat in grocery to create a perfect e-commerce process and link their online orders into physical stores.

Walmart already has several groceries pick up locations which they hope would solidify customer's trust when top-grade competitors like Amazon decides to go bigger into grocery.

Now, one of the goals of Walmart is to quickly go high the grocery sales ladder by using next-generation technologies such as visual search, voice command, and delivery vehicles, to professionally deliver orders.

Customers can now pick up the grocery ordered online in store from over 2,000 Walmart stores in the United States and plans have been ongoing on creating more stores.

According to a report from Cowen and company, "over 13% of Walmart users use the grocery pickup service".

In one of the company’s recent earnings call, Doug McMillon said grocery comp sales have been incredible since nine years ago.

Walmart's biggest focus is to utilize technology to simplify the process of placing a recurring order, according to CFO Brent Biggs in a retail summit.  

"We're focusing on keeping our customers at bay to the extent that when they think of shopping, they'll think of us".

Walmart has prioritized their click and collects service, as it's simpler(and cheaper) for the company to have their customers come over to the brick and mortar store than having their staffs deliver the order to them. It also avails customers the opportunity to place more physical order at the store.

To make this a success, Walmart has added more pickers including over 2,000 employees in 2018, with many of them hired in order to proffer faster solution on how to help the company fulfill their orders swiftly. (2)

"Unlike competitors, our investment in this process have been wide-reaching and have yielded results", according to the CEO.

Over 2000 Walmart stores with grocery pickups have the capacity to serve over 70% of the United States population.

The company is also having an in-house discussion with autonomous delivery partners to figure out the most cost-effective way to successfully deliver to "last miles".

With Walmart offering simpler ways for customers to complete the process of shopping, orderly and receiving their grocery, it's obviously a step ahead of the competition.

The new voice command could help shoppers swiftly process their order.

Yet only a few American use the voice assistant purchase method. In a recent survey by e-Marketer, only 5% of the surveyed house uses the voice assistant to make a grocery purchase, smaller when compared with those who use voice command to purchase other products.

But according to an analyst from Mercato, voice assistance is a life saver for customers who want to make a swift purchase on the go- to quickly have fresh produce delivered to your doorstep”.

Because Americans are yet to embrace the voice assistant, Walmart is also looking for other technological alternatives to help customers fulfill their grocery order faster.

For example, in one of their stores, Walmart is testing out an artificial intelligence technology that automatically populates a customer shopping list, using their shopping history. They're also testing out a visual search to enhance online grocery shopping.

John Owen, an associate director at a research firm, said while the overall embracement of voice assistant grocery is still on the low end, Walmart's new technology may have little to no immediate effect on the e-commerce grocery business but as time goes on, the shopper would embrace the invention". 

Conclusively, Walmart is altogether reinventing the wheels of its online grocery strategy to remain a strong competitor for Amazon and change the future of online grocery purchase.

Penelope Torres

She is a health blogger that knows exactly what readers expect from her writings on nutrition, health and wellness. She inspires them to act and educate them on nutrition and healthy living using real and scientifically-based facts that support her ideas.
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