Walmart launches US-wide bid for online grocery delivery market

Selecting the right cucumber is a nail-biter under the best of circumstances, and such circumstances don’t often exist, we now know through *extensive research. Most retailers simply mound up a few dozen of these unfortunate tubular gourds in open coolers, and then price them so low that anyone inclined towards salad grabs a few. “Why not,” you think to yourself as you eye the $0.99-per-pound price tag. “Cucumbers taste like summer rain!

Put the cucumber down and step away from the produce section, ma’am!

You’re holding the culinary equivalent of a grenade. Underneath that verdant exterior (thanks, genetic engineering) is a leathery skin, coated in wax, that stretches over rubbery flesh, weeks past its prime with enormous, chewy seeds suspended in a mayonnaise-like slime. Bitter and blistering with age, bloated in its final hours of agony, and begging you to end its tortured existence with the sweet release of the blade, this cucumber belongs in an episode of American Horror Story, not your salad!

image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The good news is, somewhere in that mass-grave of vegetable matter lies the perfect addition to your salad. But you have to study each cucumber closely for signs of aging, probe its delicate ends for signs of withered softness (and yellowing, that’s also a red flag).

That, dear reader, is why shopping takes me so long, and why I’m perpetually single. I take my vegetable selection very seriously, and you should too!

But the customer has spoken. Or perhaps it’s the retailer that has spoken. Either way, everybody is speaking, and the message is clear. Americans now trust the internet with their cucumbers, and dozens of equally critical shopping choices – with the added bonus of no longer having to make eye contact with our compatriots. It’s a brave new online world we live in, and it’s one where Walmart wants a bigger piece of the action.

America’s largest brick-and-mortar retailer announced today that it was expanding its online grocery delivery option to 100 metro areas across the U.S. this year, reaching more than 40 percent of the country’s households.

Walmart currently only offers grocery deliveries in six metro areas, but the Arkansas-based retailer is betting that its huge physical presence will allow it to grow fast and compete with the likes of Amazon, which has less grocery infrastructure in place. “Ninety percent of Americans live within 10 miles of a Walmart store, and we serve more than 150 million customers a week, said Greg Foran, president and CEO, Walmart U.S.

“We’re saving customers time by leveraging new technology and connecting all the parts of our business into a single seamless shopping experience: great stores, easy pickup, fast delivery, and apps and websites that are simple to use,” said Foran. “We’re serving our customers in ways that no one else can. Using our size and scale, we’re bringing the best of Walmart to customers across the country.”

But can this new technology that Walmart is “leveraging” account for the hue, heft and crunch of cucumbers? Or are some things are best shopped for the old way?

Walmart seems to think so. “Associates must complete a three-week training program learning how to select the freshest produce,” the retailer said, which while not quite enough time to cover the nuances of cucumber selection is a good start.

 

*I experienced a short-lived health food kick during the summer of 2016

 

If you are interested in learning more about the impact of e-commerce on the air freight and express industry, and on the world economy, join us Cargo Facts Asia, 23-25 April, at the Mandarin Oriental Pudong in Shanghai. This year’s event will feature several sessions devoted to e-commerce. For more information, or to register, visit www.cargofactsasia.com

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