Business

Wal-Mart's Drive-Thru Grocery Test Isn't That New

Although customers at an Arkansas site seem to like the new drive-thru option Wal-Mart is testing, experts aren't exactly bullish on the concept.

Wal-Mart's Drive-Thru Grocery Test Isn't That New
Wal-Mart
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Wal-Mart's newest idea actually aims to keep you out of the store. A drive-thru grocery front for the big-box retailer launched this week in Bentonville, Arkansas — home of global headquarters.

Wal-Mart Pickup Grocery is pretty simple. You order online up to three weeks in advance and then notify the store within two hours of wanting to show up to grab your stuff. (Video via KFSM)

CEO Bill Simon announced the plan earlier this year during an investors' conference, and the test site's not getting bad reviews from the citizens of Bentonville.

One man who posted a video to YouTube with the comment "least painful shopping trip EVER" got his order about nine minutes after he typed in his confirmation number — presumably an extremely convenient feature considering he had three kids in the back who would've had to go in the store with him otherwise.

But some suggest Wal-Mart Pickup might not just be for customer convenience's sake. (Video via Wal-Mart)

Consumerist theorized in May since customers pay in advance and never enter the store, there'd be no need to hire cashiers, fresh and frozen items wouldn't be exposed to warm temperatures and stocking would be in an entirely warehouse setting.

"The emphasis would (presumably) be on efficient storage and access, rather than having to concern itself with whether one brand of ketchup is positioned in a more marketing-friendly location than others, or if chips and salsa are in the same aisle."

This isn't exactly a new concept. FreshDirect, based out of New York City, actually takes it a step further by delivering your groceries in a refrigerated truck.

Several consultants and executives discussed the test in an online forum Wednesday on RetailWire. While some called the idea interesting, very few seemed particularly bullish.

The CEO of Rainmaker Solutions wrote even specific products mean Wal-Mart Pickup won't work for the average consumer.

"Especially when it comes from meats and perishables. We want to select our own, not have a clerk do it for us. I can visualize the shoppers at the return counters now."

There's no extra charge for people using the test site, and Wal-Mart may expand the idea to other locations if the test goes well. (Video via Wal-Mart)

It also virtually eliminates the chances your mug will ever show up on the dreaded PeopleOfWalmart.com. So there's that.

This video includes images from Getty Images and music from Marco Trovatello / CC BY NC 3.0.