Wal-Mart and Kroger, two of the largest grocery sellers in the United States, have announced plans for online-to-offline ordering options for grocery customers in a handful of cities.
The new shopping option expands the availability of omnichannel shopping within the food and consumables vertical. Wal-Mart’s expansion of its existing services will mean 30 markets across the country will have e-grocery shopping options available to them.
Both Wal-Mart and Kroger are driving O2O sales by allowing for online grocery ordering, after which consumers can pick up their orders curbside at stores. A spokesman for Wal-Mart said the company plans to continue expanding this service to other parts of the country, with additional growth occurring later this year, according to Internet Retailer.
Wal-Mart and Kroger aren’t the first retailers to take this step of making groceries available through online stores — Amazon has a grocery delivery service in some markets that ships in as little as one hour. But the adoption of online grocery selling by two major brands shows that omnichannel strategy is quickly driving an arms race — even among retail verticals without a long online shopping history.
Online Ordering, Customer Flexibility
Even as Kroger makes its curbside pickup available to more markets, the company is looking to take those omnichannel services even further. Internet Retailer notes that Kroger is testing out online ordering and delivering, instead of requiring customers to come to the stores.
This shopping service, known as “endless aisle,” is being utilized on a limited basis by select Kroger locations, and it has also been launched by Safeway, now a part of the Albertson’s grocery network.
News of this increased omnichannel grocery availability is sure to have a trickle-down effect within the industry. Wal-Mart and Kroger rank as the top two grocers in America according to market share, and two-thirds of Wal-Mart’s 2016 revenue can from grocery and consumables sales.
The e-grocery market is expected to see double-digit growth for the next few years, and industry leaders like Wal-Mart and Kroger know they have to be aggressive to combat Amazon and retain their impressive market share. For those retailers, omnichannel is not an option.
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