Lately I’ve been reading about the competition heating up in the retail grocery space, with Amazon in a deal to purchase Whole Foods, and Walmart rolling out drive-up delivery. These sound like great advancements in the grocery space that adds a touch of convenience to the tedious chore of grocery shopping.
But I’d wait a bit before making any serious choices about where to pile my investment money because which retail powerhouse ultimately wins the day isn’t necessarily about new ideas. Of course any advancement starts with an idea, but being able to compete with the idea has to do with the ability to execute more than anything else.
I’ve recently tried to try Walmart’s new online ordering and drive-up grocery service. The process starts with selecting a scheduled time to pick up, but I just can’t seem to get my goods when I want them. The two times I’ve looked at the schedule, the next available slot is tomorrow. So while I am at work thinking about what I want for dinner, I can’t just order the things I need and swing by Walmart on my way home. I’ve seen the signs posted outside the store for where people are supposedly to park in order to have their orders loaded, but I’ve never actually seen anyone having their car loaded up while I was there.
Yesterday, I made my latest attempt to use the service, and aside from the lack of availability of a preferred time slot, there simply was no grocery inventory available to order at my store. According to the website, it was supposedly out of everything I wanted until Thursday, even for ordering online and going to the instore pickup window. And these were things like store brand pasta, Bigelow Earl Grey Tea, and Puffs facial tissue. I could buy a TV, a fan, or an exercise bike to pick up after work. But wanting something to eat, I was simply out of luck, even if willing to get out of my car and go pick up my order inside the store.
Given all of this, I am starting to suspect that the online grocery service offered by Walmart simply doesn’t exist, and if it does, it might as well not.
Amazon’s grocery service currently isn’t available in my area and won’t be even after the Whole Foods purchase. I have tried Amazon’s subscribe and save program in the past, however, with disappointing results. I received one shipment of cheese crackers, and the next month I received nothing. Then Amazon cancelled my subscription, which is rather curious given how common these are.
In summary, if like me, you’ve read the copious articles about how these two retail powerhouses will be smashing competition with their technology, I certainly hope you are doing so with a huge box of Morton’s table salt that you hiked through the nearest grocery store to buy.
BTW: I ultimately stopped at Target for the stuff I wanted yesterday. It is much closer to the way home than Walmart is and had everything I wanted.