Shoppers increasingly buying groceries online helped Walmart gain on its rival Amazon in the final months of last year.
Walmart’s e-commerce sales soared 43 percent in the quarter that ended Jan. 31, in part because it’s giving more shoppers the option of buying their bread, milk and produce from their smartphones.
Walmart shoppers can pick up items they ordered online at more than 2,100 stores or have them delivered from almost 800 locations. The retailer says 37,000 personal shoppers help to fill the baskets.
“Customers are really busy, and if we can find a way to make things easier for them with pick up and delivery, they’re all over it,’’ Walmart President and CEO Doug McMillon said in an earnings call with investors.
Adding that customers who shop both online and in-store spend twice as much, McMillon said “part of our strategy is to build on our existing strengths. Our stores and clubs are becoming more digital, and we’re using technology to change how we work.’’
The retailer says it will double the number of locations offering same-day delivery of groceries and will add the option of picking up online grocery orders to another 1,000 stores.
Walmart also made gains in toys in the wake of Toys R Us shutting its doors in June.
Sales at stores open at least a year saw an uptick in the quarter that ended Jan. 31, increasing 4.2 percent.
Walmart, the world’s biggest retailer, has engaged in a vigorous back and forth with e-commerce giant Amazon, buying niche sites that specialize in a particular category of products and bolstering its online experience with a sharper layout and more items.
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“Walmart is successfully broadening its online base of customers and is now attracting both younger and more affluent demographics,” Neil Saunders, managing director of retail consultancy GlobalData said in a note. “These are early days, but as we have noted before, Walmart is now a serious contender in the online space and presents a much more serious threat to Amazon than it did 18 months ago.”
For the full year, Walmart’s online sales rose 40 percent, with store sales rising 3.6 percent, the biggest uptick in a decade.
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