Walmart will begin offering a grocery pickup service for the first time at 11 Ottawa-area locations starting next week.
The pickup service planned for Ottawa will be the first time the retailer will sell fresh food online. The retailer is prepared to roll out the service to other cities if demand warrants.
The $3 service will allow people to place orders through Walmart Canada's website. The orders must be at minimum $50 and made at least a day ahead of time.
Simon Rodrigue, Walmart Canada's senior vice-president, said the company has been working on the service for more than a year and decided to launch it in Ottawa because the city has been a strong market for e-commerce.
"The other thing is Ottawa gives us a great cross-section of Canada," Rodrigue said on Friday. "We see a strong education segment with two universities, a high-tech sector and demographically, there's a lot of young families here."
The service will begin at six Ottawa stores on Tuesday, followed by another five on July 21. It will be available for grocery items including frozen foods, produce, meat and fish, dry goods, personal care and household cleaning products. But it won't apply to over-the-counter or prescription drugs or for non-grocery items such as clothing.
Customers will park at a selected Walmart location at an agreed-on time and orders, which can be made as far in advance as 21 days, will be loaded within five minutes, the company says.
Walmart, with nearly 400 stores across Canada, has been offering a pickup service for non-perishable goods at about 55 locations, mostly in the Toronto area.
Loblaw launched a similar service last year at three locations in the Toronto area. It added an Ottawa location last month and plans to launch another four in the area this summer.
``We believe they're fairly connected and tech savvy in the Ottawa space,'' said Loblaw senior vice-president Jeremy Pee.
``We've been getting a lot of requests from the Ottawa area in terms of customers sending us emails and calling our call centres. So we know there's demand out there.''
One of the surprises for Loblaw, Pee said, has been the demand for fresh products such as produce, deli, cheese and meat.
``I think we've done a really good job on training our (food pickers) as well as educating our customers and making the assortment available.''
Rodrigue says Walmart is also drawing on years of experience at its U.K. subsidiary Asda Stores.
Walmart has been ramping up its online business in Canada for several years. Its delivery service was expanded to include packaged grocery products, and last September the retailer launched a Grab & Go service allowing shoppers to pick up their online orders from lockers at certain stores.
Canada’s big grocery retailers are starting to invest more in online. Loblaw Companies began a three-store click and collect service in Toronto last year and plans to expand that to 50 stores by the end of the year, Bruce Burrows, chief information officer at Loblaw, said at the Store conference in June.