Walmart tech aims to grow online fresh sales
Amazon is currently the U.S. leader in online grocery sales, but Walmart is aiming to change that with a variety of initiatives – particularly to boost perishable food sales.
Walmart’s newest effort to gain an edge is its patent application for a technology allowing customers to preview their perishable food items online via photos before purchasing them, Business Insider reported.
The system, dubbed “Fresh Online Experience,” uses 3D scanning to show online shoppers in-store seafood, meat, and produce.
Amazon doesn’t have this technology in place and, while it netted USD 2 billion (EUR 1.6 billion) in grocery sales online last year, the majority of its grocery sales are packaged foods, according to Business Insider.
Here’s how the Fresh Online Experience works: After a customer places an order, a store associate uses a 3D scanner to scan items they pull from Walmart’s inventory. The visual is uploaded to a platform by the store associate and sent to the customer. The customer receives a notification to review the item, and can reject it if they don't like what they see.
Once the customer approves an item, it receives an “edible watermark” and is packed for delivery. Walmart may also automate the scanning portion of the system to increase efficiency, according to Business Insider.
“Walmart’s new system may help it gain an edge over Amazon, especially if these 3D visuals can reassure customers that they'll be able to pick out quality produce without having to physically see them,” Business Insider said.
Walmart also aims to boost online sales with its recent expansion of online pickup towers to 500 U.S. stores. Customers who have ordered online with in-store pickup can enter their order number at the tower and receive their package quickly, as the technology operates similarly to a vending machine.
Walmart has also significantly expanded its free grocery pickup service, allowing customers to order online and then pick up their groceries outside the store. The service is now available at more than 1,000 U.S. stores.