Bentonville, Ark. — Wal-Mart’s online customers will soon be able to retrieve their purchases at their local Wal-Mart stores and save on shipping.
After a three-year pilot program, the world’s largest retailer today launched the first phase of a national rollout that will bring its “site-to-store” service to most Wal-Mart locations in all 48 contiguous states by late summer.
Tens of thousands of online items in nearly 100 categories will be eligible for free delivery, including 2,232 CE SKUs. Indeed, Wal-Mart specifically targeted CE for the service, along with toys, sports, home and baby products, and cited a Samsung 32W-inch LCD HDTV, retailing for $897, as a top-selling item from the trial.
Special messaging is featured on eligible product pages, and during checkout customers can select the site-to-store option, chose the store where their items will be delivered, and see the amount saved on shipping. Purchases arrive in stores within seven to ten business days after the order is processed.
Wal-Mart began testing the program within the Dallas-Fort Worth market in 2004, and sales more than tripled following trials at a limited number of pilot stores, the company said. Nevertheless, Wal-Mart, with its extensive store base, is a latecomer to the clicks-and-bricks service, which was pioneered by Circuit City and recently launched by RadioShack.
The first phase of the rollout will bring the service to 750 stores in Arkansas, California, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma and select parts of Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas. Wal-Mart will activate additional stores throughout the United States over the next several months, beginning with the West Coast, and will complete the national rollout by late summer.
“Our extensive testing of the site to store service allowed us to create a multichannel shopping experience that brings additional assortment, convenience and value to our customers,” said Raul Vazquez, CEO of Walmart.com. “We found that nearly two-thirds of the customers who used the trial service also shop in Wal-Mart stores on a weekly basis. Site-to-store not only offers these customers access to thousands of additional online products, but also gives them the added convenience of picking up those items at the store during their weekly shopping trips without paying for shipping.”
Mike Smith, Walmart.com’s director of store integration, added that “A key advantage of Wal-Mart’s online channel is the ability to offer a much larger assortment of products through our virtual shelf space, while our offline channel’s key strengths include our nationwide footprint with more than 3,300 retail store locations and a world-class logistics network capable of efficiently delivering online products to customers at our stores. Site to store leverages each of these strengths to provide customers with a robust multichannel shopping experience.”