Wal­mart ends on­line fee for gro­cery pickup

The Hamilton Spectator - - BUSINESS - DAN HEAL­ING

Wal­mart Canada is elim­i­nat­ing the pickup fee from its on­line gro­cery ser­vice as it braces for in­creas­ing com­pe­ti­tion in a busi­ness where profit mar­gins are al­ready ra­zor thin.

The retail gi­ant said Tues­day it is can­celling the $2.97 charge for cus­tomers who or­der gro­ceries on­line and pick them up in stores.

Although the fee was mod­est, the com­pany’s in­ter­nal stud­ies in­di­cated it was a bar­rier pre­vent­ing some peo­ple from us­ing their on­line gro­cery pickup ser­vice, said Daryl Porter, vice-pres­i­dent of on­line gro­cery for Wal­mart Canada.

“Even though it’s a small dol­lar amount, it means some­thing,” Porter said. “We want to re­move that fee and give peo­ple a bet­ter chance to try it.”

The ser­vice launched in Ot­tawa in July 2015, about a year af­ter Loblaw rolled out a sim­i­lar pro­gram in the Toronto area. Wal­mart Canada has since ex­panded it to the Greater Toronto Area, Cal­gary and Ed­mon­ton, and Porter said there are plans to bring it to a fifth mar­ket that will be un­veiled in about a month.

The an­nounce­ment Tues­day comes against the back­drop of Ama­zon’s US$13.7-bil­lion deal to buy Whole Foods, an ac­qui­si­tion that some in­dus­try ob­servers say will up­end the su­per­mar­ket sec­tor in North Amer­ica.

“There is a lot of ac­tiv­ity hap­pen­ing out there in the in­dus­try but this is some­thing we wanted to do even be­fore the Ama­zon an­nounce­ment,” Porter said.

Wal­mart Canada in­tro­duced gro­ceries in its stores in 2006 and they are now avail­able in about three-quar­ters of its 411 stores.

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