NEW YORK — Walmart is testing a same-day delivery service in select markets for customers who buy popular items online during the holiday shopping season.
The move comes as the world's largest retailer faces increasing competition from online giants like Amazon.com., which is testing same-day delivery service in 10 markets. The Bentonville, Ark.-based discounter is trying to cater to Web-savvy shoppers who are demanding more convenience.
Walmart's tests started this month in northern Virginia and Philadelphia. The program rolled out Tuesday to Minneapolis. Walmart plans tests in San Francisco and San Jose, Calif., later this month or in early November.
The program builds on a same-day grocery delivery launch in April 2010 in San Jose, followed by a San Francisco test the last year.
About 5,000 general merchandise items, including flat-panel TVs, toys and Apple iPads, will be available for same-day shipping. The delivery charge is $10 for an unlimited number of items, with no minimum purchase. In San Francisco and San Jose, shoppers will be required to have a minimum order of $45.
“This builds on a testament to try to provide greater convenience to our customers,” said Amy Lester, Walmart spokeswoman. She said that right now, the company has no immediate plans to roll out the service to other stores.
“This is truly to learn and better understand what our customers want,” Lester added.
In a recent Walmart customer survey, the majority of respondents said they would consider same-day delivery if available. More than half said they would use it monthly or more frequently.
How it works
Walmart's service works this way: Customers place orders up until noon and then choose a four-hour window to receive the delivery the same day. Walmart is using UPS delivery trucks to deliver merchandise. For the San Francisco and San Jose markets, shoppers have to order by 7 a.m. that day to receive items. Walmart is using its own delivery trucks in those two regions.
In April, Walmart rolled out a program that allows online shoppers who don't want to use credit cards to order goods online and pay with cash at the local Walmart store. Company officials said the program has fared well. It also has a program called Site to Store where shoppers order online, then pick up products at the local store.