Wal­mart ex­pands gro­cery pickup ser­vice into Berks

Bechtelsville, Ex­eter, Ham­burg lo­ca­tions now par­tic­i­pat­ing

The Boyertown Area Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Donna Rovins drovins@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @Mer­cBiz on Twit­ter

Gro­cery shop­ping … ev­ery­one does it. From list writ­ing to shop­ping to putting away — it’s an ac­tiv­ity that takes hours every week. Or maybe not. Wal­mart rolled out its gro­cery pickup ser­vice to three Berks County stores — in Ham­burg, Ex­eter and Bechtelsville — on Thurs­day, March 29.

“I’m re­ally ex­cited that we’re adding gro­cery pickup. Cus­tomers have been ask­ing for it. We have been do­ing pickup with gen­eral mer­chan­dise for a long time — and we’re good at it,” said Tyler Mor­gan, store man­ager for the Bechtelsville lo­ca­tion. “No one of­fers gro­cery pick up the way we do. From deli to meat to pro­duce, we have done the work in the back­ground to make it easy and con­ve­nient for cus­tomers.”

Gro­cery pickup al­lows cus­tomers to place an or­der for their gro­cery prod­ucts and choose a con­ve­nient pickup time. When they ar­rive at the store, they park in a des­ig­nated spot, and through the Wal­mart Gro­cery app, let the store know they have ar­rived. Wal­mart as­so­ciates will de­liver the or­der and load it into the cus­tomer’s car.

“We of­fer the broad­est as­sort­ment of items — 40,000 items,” Mor­gan added. Avail­able prod­ucts in­clude gro­cery items, fresh meat, dairy, pro­duce and con­sum-

ables like toi­letries, di­a­pers and pet food.

Gro­cery pickup was launched by Wal­mart in 2015, ac­cord­ing to Mike Bern­hardt, Wal­mart eCom­merce coach, but has been rolled out slowly by the com­pany.

“We did this to bet­ter serve our cus­tomers, who are look­ing for faster and eas­ier ways to shop,” Bern­hardt said. “We have gone slowly be­cause we want to make sure that it’s be­ing done right. In 2018 — 1000 stores will get the gro­cery pick up ser­vice.”

At the Bechtelsville store on Thurs­day, there were 20 pickup or­ders placed for the first day — in­clud­ing one or­der that had more than 100 items in it.

A staff of nine is ded­i­cated to the gro­cery pickup, but On­line Gro­cery Man­ager Zach Thomas said he is plan­ning to add more as the ser­vice grows. The staff is com­prised of some ex­pe­ri­enced store as­so­ciates as well as some new hires.

And while there was equip­ment and sig­nage that was needed to pre­pare for the launch, Mor­gan said the big­gest in­vest­ment has been in the peo­ple.

Thomas added that train­ing for the gro­cery pickup ser­vice was about 10 weeks.

“It is very hands on train­ing. Our pro­duce ex­perts know ex­actly what to look for to pro­vide the fresh­est qual­ity and what to put out. So they worked side by side with the trainees,” said Thomas. “For the last cou­ple of weeks we have been do­ing test runs — putting or­ders through and prac­tic­ing filling them.”

Thomas added that gro­cery pickup gives Wal­mart “a great new way to pro­vide ser­vice for cus­tomers.”

Start­ing at 5 a.m., as­so­ciates be­gin pulling the or­ders for the day. Gro­ceries are kept in re­frig­er­a­tors; frozen food and ice cream are kept in freez­ers. When the cus­tomer ar­rives at the store, all of the items are placed into totes and taken to the cus­tomer’s car.

An as­so­ciate re­views the or­der with the cus­tomer and ex­plains if any sub­sti­tu­tions were made — sub­sti­tu­tions the cus­tomer can re­ject. How­ever, Bern­hardt said that if an or­dered prod­uct is not avail­able and a sub­sti­tu­tion is made with a prod­uct that is priced higher, the cus­tomer will get it at the lower price.

“We make sure ev­ery­thing is cor­rect. If it’s good, then the cus­tomer signs for it and they re­ceive an email con­fir­ma­tion,” said Wal­mart As­so­ciate Jes­sica Swine­hart.

“We go over ev­ery­thing with them,” added Wal­mart As­so­ciate Janet Gru­ber.

At the Bechtelsville store on Thurs­day, Bern­hardt, who had an or­der wait­ing, demon­strated how the pickup worked. On the app, he alerted the store that he had ar­rived, and within 90-sec­onds, his com­pleted or­der was com­ing out the door.

Bern­hardt added that part of his job is read­ing cus­tomer sur­veys about the ser­vice.

“Across the board, cus­tomers love it. Sat­is­fac­tion is ex­tremely high,” he said. “The goal is speed and ac­cu­racy.”

Bern­hardt added that in ad­di­tion to the Bechtelsville lo­ca­tion, 567 Route 100 North, the gro­cery pickup ser­vice launched Thurs­day at Wal­mart stores in Ham­burg (1800 Tilden Ridge) and Ex­eter (5900 Perkiomen Ave.). The ser­vice is also avail­able at stores in Hat­field, Wil­low Grove, Al­len­town, Me­chan­ics­burg and Parkes­burg.

DONNA ROVINS — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Bechtelsville Wal­mart As­so­ciate Jes­sica Swine­hart pre­pares to de­liver a gro­cery or­der to a cus­tomer on Thurs­day. Swine­hart is tak­ing a fi­nal look at the or­der be­fore load­ing it into the car. She is as­sisted by as­so­ciate Janet Gru­ber. Three Berks County...

DONNA ROVINS — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Spe­cially marked park­ing spa­ces at the Bechtelsville Wal­mart des­ig­nate where cus­tomers should park for Wal­mart’s gro­cery pickup ser­vice.

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