Walmart expands grocery delivery service in Florida markets

Malena Carollo/The Tampa Bay Times - Walmart is formally launching its grocery delivery service in Tampa, the company announced Monday, as it expands its delivery test into Orlando and Dallas. Five locations around Tampa are offering delivery for online grocery orders.

 

"Last year, we began testing grocery delivery through crowd-sourced services like Uber," the company said in a release. "Here's what we've learned: customers like you love the convenience of a delivery option."

Walmart employees called "personal shoppers" gather customers' requested items and hand them off to be delivered via Uber, which is partnering with Walmart.

The retailer said it has successfully completed an unannounced soft launch in March at the five Tampa locations.

This program is similar to Walmart's in-store grocery pickup, where customers collect their fulfilled online orders at the store. With the delivery option, the only added step is Uber takes the groceries to customers' homes.

Walmart is a relative latecomer to the local grocery delivering sphere. Shipt started delivering groceries from Publix Super Markets in 2015. In June, Publix announced it would offer same-day grocery delivery from all of its locations by 2020, many of which are already operating in Tampa Bay.

Safeway, Amazon Prime Now, Google Express and WeDeliverGroceries.com also deliver groceries.

But Jeff Green, a Phoenix-based retail analyst, said that while Walmart might be late, at least it showed up. "It's almost a requirement right now that every grocery retailer deliver," Green said.

The challenge, he said, will be the economics.

"Their customer base is going to be the hardest nut to crack of any supermarket customer because they're more price sensitive," he said.

For Walmart deliveries, there is a $30 minimum customers must meet before they can check out. Then, there's a $9.95 delivery fee.

Notably absent from the accepted forms of payment listed during its checkout process is food stamps. The retail giant told The Wall Street Journal in 2012 that it received 18 percent of all food stamps spent nationwide that year.

Walmart currently has 22 stores that offer delivery across Tampa, Orlando, Dallas and Phoenix.