Online grocery spending has grown 15% in the past year, and a new move by Walmart points to even bigger growth to come.

According to research from Brick Meets Click, 2019 online grocery sales have increased 15% compared with year-ago levels and now account for 6.3% of total grocery-related spending.

The same day those statistics were released, Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart said Sep. 12 they will expand the reach of Delivery Unlimited – a grocery delivery membership option for customers – to 1,400 stores later this fall.

The program, according to a news release, gives shoppers the option to pay a yearly $98 fee or a monthly $12.95 fee to receive unlimited Walmart grocery delivery orders. In addition, customers will continue to have the option to pay a per-delivery fee, which doesn’t require a membership.

“Grocery Delivery takes convenience to a new level, and our customers love it. With Delivery Unlimited, we’re providing incredible value for our customers and leveraging our unique assets to save them both time and money,” Janey Whiteside, chief customer officer for Walmart, said in the release.

After piloting Delivery Unlimited Houston, Miami, Salt Lake City and Tampa this year, Walmart is expanding the program to all 200 metro areas where Grocery Delivery is available now, according to the release.

With the expansion of its Grocery Delivery service, Walmart said in the release that Delivery Unlimited also will expand and will be available in more than 1,600 stores and more than 50% of the country by the end of the year. 

With the service, customers place their orders online at or on the existing Walmart Grocery app, and the release said shoppers will find the same prices for online shopping as in the stores.

Walmart employs more than 45,000 personal shoppers that power the program, according to the release. Those personal shoppers must complete a three-week training program learning how to select the freshest produce and the best cuts of meat for the company’s online shoppers, according to the release.

Grocery Delivery adds to Walmart’s Grocery Pickup service that allows customers to order their groceries online and pick them up in stores without leaving their cars. That service is offered in about 3,000 stores, the company said.


Online grocery growth

Barrington, Ill.-based Brick Meets Click said several factors are driving the growth of the U.S. online grocery business:

  • Household penetration has risen more than 5% in the past year to nearly 25% of all U.S.households, which Brick Meets Click attributes to the aggressive expansion of home delivery and pickup services available at stores;
  •  Average order values have increased by over 6% to $70 in 2019;
  • Online purchase frequency for groceries remains relatively unchanged versus last year, averaging two orders during the past month for active online grocery customers; and
  • Brick Meets Click said ship-to-home orders account for 50% of all online grocery orders; pickup captures 28% and home delivery 22% of the orders respectively.


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