Amazon and Walmart Inc. are neck and neck in the ongoing battle for convenience, with both retailers announcing expansions of their online grocery delivery services on Tuesday.
Amazon and Whole Foods Market launched free two-hour delivery through Prime Now across the greater Los Angeles and Orange County, Calif., areas via the Prime Now website and mobile app. The service is now available in seven cities since its initial launch in February 2018, with plans to expand to all U.S. Whole Foods stores this year.
Prime Now offers Amazon Prime loyalty members free two-hour delivery as well as one-hour delivery for an additional $7.99 on orders of $35 or more. The service is available daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
“We’ve been delighted with the customer response to free two-hour delivery through Prime Now, and we’re excited to bring the service to our Los Angeles-area customers,” said Christina Minardi, EVP of operations for Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods, in a statement. “Today’s announcement is another way that we are continuing to expand access to our high-quality products and locally sourced favorites.”
Following the initial launch of Amazon’s Prime Now grocery delivery service, Walmart in March announced its own plans to expand its online grocery delivery option to 100 markets this year, which now includes Charlotte, N.C. The retailer on Tuesday announced its partnership with on-demand delivery service Postmates in a move to expand its delivery offerings to more than 40% of U.S. households.
The service is available via Walmart’s website or grocery app and offers delivery as soon as the same day for a $9.95 fee on orders of $30 or more, with free delivery available to first-time customers on orders of $50 or more.
“With the help of Postmates, we’re making grocery shopping even easier by bringing the everyday low prices of Walmart right to the front door of customers in Charlotte with more areas to be added soon,” said Mark Ibbotson, EVP of central operations for Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart, in a statement.
Both Amazon’s Prime Now function and Walmart’s service with Postmates utilize personal shoppers and delivery drivers to bring groceries to their customers’ doorsteps. The retailers’ expanded services could pose a threat to Instacart, which operates in a similar manner to provide deliveries for orders from multiple grocery retailers nationwide.
“Both Walmart and Postmates strive to make the lives of our customers easier,” said Dan Mosher, SVP of merchant lead at San Francisco, Calif.-based Postmates. “With our growing fleet of 160,000 couriers, we are confident that we’ll be providing Walmart customers with the ultimate convenience.”
In an effort to attract consumers to the new service beyond its obvious convenience factor, Walmart requires its personal shoppers to complete a three-week training program to learn how to best select fresh produce and cuts of meat for its online grocery customers. Most consumers still prefer to view and pick fresh food themselves, according to a recent survey from Morgan Stanley, which found that 84% of consumers said they decided against ordering groceries online for that reason.
Walmart also offers an online grocery pickup service, which allows its customers to order groceries online for curbside pickup at the store. The service is available in 1,200 stores, including nearly 20 in Charlotte, N.C., with plans to expand to 1,000 more stores this year.