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Walmart to pilot online grocery in Ottawa

Fresh food pickup service to launch in the coming weeks

A new player is about to make a big move into Canada’s online grocery game.

Walmart Canada has confirmed it will pilot an online grocery pickup service in Ottawa in the coming weeks.

The new service “will provide customers with greater convenience for their weekly grocery shop,” Simon Rodrigue, Walmart’s senior VP of e-commerce told Canadian Grocer.

Although the timing of the launch and the stores involved have not yet been announced, Rodrigue did confirm that the items available to Ottawa customers will include most of the grocery products customers want on a weekly basis.

“Our intent is to continue building on our commitment to provide customers across Canada with convenient access to our grocery and general merchandise assortment and prices,” he said.

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.

The pickup service planned for Ottawa will be the first time the retailer will sell fresh food online.

The launch should come as no surprise for those following the retailer’s recent investments.

In February, Walmart announced that it would spend $35 million this year in Canada on e-commerce, including expanding product assortment, upgrades to its website and delivery programs. The company also said it would build its first two e-commerce warehouses in Canada this year as well.

A report from grocery research firm IGD suggests that the appointment of Dirk Van den Berghe as Walmart Canada's president last year foreshadowed the company's latest move.

Before joining Walmart, Van den Berghe was CEO of Delhaize Group's business in Belgium and Luxembroug and brought to Canada "significant expertise in fresh foods and e-commerce from Europe," IGD wrote.

Walmart Canada will also be able to draw from the experience of its U.S. and U.K. counterparts. Walmart U.S. has launched store pickup tests in Bentonville, Phoenix and Huntsville over the past year, and its Asda operations in the U.K. will be open its first unmanned click-and-collect facility later this month.

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