TORONTO -- Walmart will offer grocery pickup for the first time in Canada starting next week at locations in the Ottawa area, and it says it's prepared to roll out the service to other cities if demand warrants.
The $3 service will allow people to place orders through Walmart Canada's website. The orders must be at minimum $50 and made at least a day ahead of time.
Simon Rodrigue, Walmart Canada's senior vice-president, said the company has been working on the service for more than a year and decided to launch it in Ottawa because the city has been a strong market for e-commerce.
"The other thing is Ottawa gives us a great cross-section of Canada,'' Rodrigue said in a phone interview Friday from Ottawa. "We see a strong education segment with two universities, a high-tech sector and demographically, there's a lot of young families here.''
The service will begin at six Ottawa stores on Tuesday, followed by another five on July 21. It will be available for grocery items including frozen foods, produce, meat and fish, dry goods, personal care and household cleaning products. But it won't apply to over-the-counter or prescription drugs or for non-grocery items such as clothing.
Customers will park at a selected Walmart location at an agreed-on time and orders, which can be made as far in advance as 21 days, will be loaded within five minutes, the company says.
Walmart, with nearly 400 stores across Canada, has been offering a pickup service for non-perishable goods at about 55 locations, mostly in the Toronto area.
Loblaw (TSX:L) launched a similar service last year at three locations in the Toronto area. It added an Ottawa location last month.
Rodrigue says Walmart is also drawing on years of experience at its U.K. subsidiary Asda Stores.
"We've brought to Canada a lot of that expertise,'' Rodrigue said.
"Over the last few weeks, we've taken a group of high-potential associates and made them dedicated pickers. Almost a personal shopper. And they've been trained in how to pick that perfect avocado, the type of meat you'd look for.''
The customer also has an opportunity to review the products when they're taken to the vehicle so "we'll be able to deliver on that customer expectation every time,'' he added.
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Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified Walmart's new service as a grocery delivery service. The service will be a pickup service. Huffington Post regrets the error.