How Walmart Is Pioneering Online Produce Shopping

The Lempert Report: Proprietary technology could change grocery industry

Here's another reason to watch Walmart. Our focus has been on Amazon, Aldi, Lidl and Walmart for almost four years now, and all four organizations continue to fascinate us with what they are doing and how far ahead of the traditional grocers they seem to be. 

CB Insights reports that last year, Walmart filed for a patent for technology that allows shoppers to view individual fresh items without having to come into a store. 

They call it the Fresh Online Experience, and it allows customers to order produce, meat and bakery items online. Much like Instacart and others, they use stock photos, but here’s the huge differentiator: When the Walmart personal shopper takes a photo of the actual item (the filing details either in 2D or 3D), it sends the image of the product they picked to the customer for approval. No more unripe limes or wilted lettuce!

Then it gets even sexier—once the fresh item is approved by the customer, the filing describes an “edible watermark” that could be applied to the item to verify that it was the exact item the shopper had selected. Perhaps this is ultimate in blockchain? 

Survey after survey shows that the barrier to buying more fresh items online is due to either concern that the items will not be up to par, or from those shoppers that have already experienced this dilemma and vow to only buy packaged goods online. Walmart, once again, may well have discovered a solution that will change the grocery industry.


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