ANDERSON – A vending machine for groceries.
That’s the pitch Walmart is using for its latest entry into the online grocery pickup service, which allows customers to order groceries online and pick them up in as little as one minute.
“Much like a high-tech vending machine for your online orders, this feature in a few of our stores allows you to pick up items in less than a minute by scanning a bar code sent to your smartphone,” said Mark Ibbotson, executive vice president of central operations. “The pilot phase has been so successful we’re expanding it to other locations across the country.”
Last week, the Anderson Walmart Superstore unveiled its pickup tower, located just inside the store’s southern entrance.
“Just in time for back to school, the pickup tower is about creating an improved shopping experience for Anderson customers,” said store manager Joseph Schofield. “The tower is just one of the many ways Walmart is bringing technology to retail and adding further convenience for our local shoppers.”
The offering is just one in a series of new options supermarkets across the country are working to provide customers with faster and easier ways to tackle their weekly grocery run.
The Food Marketing Institute expects online grocery shopping to become big business in the coming years.
By 2025, as many as 70 percent of U.S. consumers will be buying groceries online and those purchases will total more than $100 billion, according to a report from the Food Marketing Institute and The Nielsen Co. That would give online shopping a 20 percent share of consumer food and beverage spending, or about five times the current level.
In its 2017 shopping trend report, found stunning growth in the sector. In 2017, 43 percent of millennials surveyed said they shop online for groceries at least occasionally — a 50 percent jump from 2016, with much of the growth coming among those who say they shop for groceries online “either fairly often or all the time.”
“This is no longer something to just keep an eye on,” says the Food Marketing Institute, a retail food trade group based in Arlington, Va. “It’s happening, and it’s habituating very large numbers of people very quickly to online-only providers and to the online channel for groceries.”
And it’s not just young digital natives who are moving from scanning store shelves to creating digital grocery lists.
According to an International Food Information Council Foundation study done in collaboration with the AARP Foundation, folks 50 and older cited being able to place an order at any time, and not having to physically get around a store or carry groceries as reasons they prefer shopping for groceries online for pickup or delivery over the traditional shopping experience.
“While the overall number of Americans over 50 who grocery shop online is relatively low, the findings can help us forecast future trends as technology use becomes even more common among older adults and other age groups,” Alexandra Lewin-Zwerdling, vice president of research and partnerships at the foundation, said in a news release.
However, some barriers remain including: high delivery fees, quality issues, wrong orders and the possibility of difficult returns.
The foundation also found older consumers don’t seek out food labels at the same rate of online shoppers overall, but a significant number still look for information including calorie counts, nutritional facts and ingredients lists. Roughly 50 percent said it is hard to find this information online, while less than 20 percent made the same statement regarding in-store shopping.
For Christy Jones, who has been using the Walmart pickup service ever since it came to Anderson last year, saving time is key reason she prefers the digital alternative.
“It saves me two hours every week,” Jones said.