Food flows to the web

July 14, 2015 01:46 PM

Busy consumers increasingly turn to the web to help them with grocery shopping and chores, and some merchants are expanding the programs they offer in response. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has expanded its online grocery service to consumers in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, while web-only Inc. announced this week an expansion of its Farmers Market program.

Walmart Pickup, the name of the grocery service offered on, launched at six Ottawa stores last week, with another five Ottawa Wal-Mart stores slated to offer it by the end of the month. Orders must be placed a day ahead of time and are picked and packed by store staff. The minimum order is $50 (Canadian) and there is a $3 pickup fee for the service. Store staff deliver orders to customers’ cars when they arrive.

In North America, 9% of consumers already order groceries online for pickup at the store, and 57% say they are willing to use that option, according to “The Future of Grocery” report from The Nielsen Co.’s grocery option works similarly to Walmart Grocery, the e-grocery program, No. 3 in the Internet Retailer 2015 Top 500 Guide, is slowly rolling out in the U.S.  Walmart Grocery is available in Denver; Phoenix; Huntsville, Ala.; San Jose, Calif.; and Bentonville, Ark., where Wal-Mart is based. Walmart Grocery—initially branded as Walmart to Go—began in San Jose in 2011., No. 31 in the Top 500, meanwhile has been rapidly expanding its Farmers Market division. Farmers Market launched late last year to connect shoppers with growers and fresh food providers in their areas, such as farmers, dairies or honey makers typically found at farmers’ markets.

Shelly Olsen, general manager of Farmers Market, says 47% of the U.S. population can now find and buy from a provider listed on that serves their area. Olsen expects that percentage to pass 50%  next month. Currently, 180 suppliers sell goods through’s Farmers Market. Some deliver orders themselves to their own geographic region, while others pack and ship orders using UPS or FedEx for delivery.

Depending on the needs and capabilities of the supplier, Overstock assists suppliers with product photography and in writing product descriptions and biographies of suppliers. 10 employees work on the Farmers Market program full time.  “We want you to know the farm you are buying from,” Olsen says. “The concept is to help get people connected to their food source, to take out the element of the grocery store where food has traveled 1,000 to 3,000 miles on average, and bring transparency to the experience.” 

The program is set up to take individual orders, but later this summer, Overstock will launch a subscription-based program where consumers can sign up for recurring food deliveries.


For more on e-grocery’s emergence in the United States, check out the cover story of Internet Retailer magazine’s August issue, available Aug. 1. Click here to sign up for a free subscription.




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