Walmart, the United States' largest grocer, on Wednesday announced plans to expand its online grocery delivery service to more than 100 metro areas. That's a significant expansion from its current six markets, and will make the service available to more than 40% of US households by the end of the year.
Walmart's grocery delivery isn't cheap — it will cost $9.95 per order with a $30 minimum, unlike Amazon's subscription model that offers free grocery delivery to Prime members (Prime costs $12.99 per month or $99 per year). A Walmart spokesperson said, "The fee is simple — no surprises, no subscription, no per-item fee or price markup." Typically, a delivery takes four hours from the time it's ordered.
Fresh foods like produce, meat, seafood, and bakery items will be available for delivery, in addition to Walmart's recently announced meal kits.
"Ninety percent of Americans live within 10 miles of a Walmart store, and we serve more than 150 million customers a week, which gives us a unique opportunity to make every day a little easier for busy families," Tom Ward, the vice president of Walmart's digital operations, said in a statement.
Walmart has trained 18,000 employees to be "personal shoppers" to prepare online orders for delivery or pickup, and it has teamed up with Uber and Deliv to handle grocery delivery. (Walmart's Sam's Club recently partnered with Instacart for grocery delivery.)
Reviews of the Walmart Grocery app — which customers have used mostly for pickup orders so far, rather than delivery — have been mixed. It scored 3.7 out of 5 on Google Play and 4 out of 5 on Apple's App Store, with people complaining about long wait times for their orders to be ready for pickup, and inaccurate packages.
"This is awesome for [the] disabled," wrote one reviewer. But another reviewer wasn't happy: "What's the point of using this service if I just have to go back to a grocery store to fix your mistakes?" they wrote.
Walmart has been making efforts to update its food options as competitors like Amazon — which now owns organic grocer Whole Foods — threaten to lure away customers by offering them convenient delivery.
Walmart seems to try to counter this with the dedicated organic section on its grocery ordering site. "We know organics are important to our Online Grocery customers,” said a spokesperson in an email.