Look out, Amazon: Trying to keep pace with the online leader, Walmart is expanding its same-day online grocery delivery service to more than 40% of US households, or 100 metro areas, by year-end, reports the AP. Tom Ward, VP of Walmart's digital operations, says the retail giant is powering the expansion of the service, currently available in six markets, using its online grocery pickup program. That service uses personal shoppers to select items and then take them to shoppers' cars parked at the curb. So far, Walmart offers curbside grocery pickup at 1,200 stores and plans to accelerate the rollout to 2,200 by year-end. Walmart says it will continue to use of ride-hailing services like Uber to deliver the goods to shoppers' homes for a flat fee of $9.95 on orders over $30.
Walmart Inc. has also been testing a service using its US store workers to drop off general merchandise to customers' homes after they finish work. Ward noted that Walmart is learning from its delivery services in such countries as China and the UK. Amazon's purchase of Whole Foods Market last year has raised the stakes in the highly competitive grocery delivery wars. Amazon recently added free two-hour Whole Foods delivery to six cities for its Prime members who pay $99 a year. Meanwhile, grocery startup Instacart has been expanding its roster of clients including BJ's and Kroger. And Target, having acquired grocery delivery startup Shipt, is expanding same-day delivery of groceries and electronics to nearly every major market by the holiday shopping season. (Read more Walmart stories.)