Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in search of customer relevance has rolled out a Walmart Pickup with Fuel concept, putting a twist on the traditional convenience store format by adding a Drive-Thru. Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru® Steven Johnson stated “Don’t get your hopes up that they have found customer relevance as once again Walmart will miss consumer relevance of the Drive-Thru if results of our Grocerant ScoreCards are any indication.
The drive-thru like much of Wal-Mart’s recent grocerant niche focused initiatives simply missed the consumer focus need to garner customer relevance. Having lost the consumer focused ‘Price’ driver to WinCo, Aldi, and Lidl it seems as if Walmart is looking for new ways to compete in the middle of the market. This new C-store appears little more than an outlet for online ordering pick-up. The company spokesperson stated that it features drive-thru for online order pickup, gas station. Once again with this new format Wal-Mart looks like yesterday’s retailer not tomorrows.
I will give them credit for closing the 10,000 sq. ft. C-stores and building the new Walmart Pickup with Fuel shops that are about 4,000 sq. ft. The new units offer gas pumps and traditional c-store fare at Walmart prices once again in Middle-Market. This E-delivery mail stop concept has fresh food from yesterday not today or tomorrow. Clearly the acquisition of Jet.com played a major role in the addition of a dedicated drive-thru for pickup grocery orders placed through Walmart's online grocery service.
Gina Kretoski, Walmart e-commerce market coach stated: "The way customers shop is changing and our time is such a valuable commodity …We’re just looking for better ways to serve our customers,". Gina if the customer has evolved why does this store look so much like yesterday? So the team at Foodservice Solutions® wonders aloud is this just an incremental way to serve the customer? We don’t think so. Is it an E-delivery mail stop? Or is it a confused C-store?
What Walmart is once again missing is a food merchant, or a grocerant niche fresh food merchant to be more specific with a customer focus. Ok this “C-store” looks the part of yesterday without the warmth. Where is the qualitative point of differentiation? It reminds the team at Foodservice Solutions® of the dismal service deli implementation of rotisserie chicken and fried chicken recently at legacy Walmart stores. Simply put Walmart has the talent but appears to lack the will to compete even in the middle.
On the bright side Walmart has the best E-Delivery mail stop in Denver. However Amazon is on track to open of another its pick-up with retail outlet with customer relevance. Walmart will have to do better than just copy others but regular readers of this blog know that companies Stuck-In-The-Middle follow, copy, they do not lead.
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