While Amazon dominates ecommerce overall, accounting for roughly half of all online consumer sales according to some estimates, it is not out in front in the grocery wars as competitors like Walmart and Target with more physical assets are winning in curbside pickup.
A new report from Cowen & Co., cited by Bloomberg, reports that as click-and-collect adoption for groceries hits 25% by 2020, Walmart will be increasing those sales to an estimated $7.5 billion that year, from $2 billion in 2018.
Amazon made major waves in the space with its 2017 acquisition of Whole Foods, and is reportedly looking to start an off-price grocery chain while dropping Whole Foods prices. But Walmart, Target and Costco have a huge head start in curbside grocery with their massive store networks covering thousands of locations.
The economics of curbside pickup for grocery orders are also highly favorable to retailers vs. the huge expense of last-mile delivery, which cost-conscious shoppers like as it almost always comes without a charge. It also suits in terms of fitting into their routine of motoring around to appointments and tasks – at least in locations that aren’t Manhattan or downtown Chicago – without the hassle of walking the aisles.
Curbside pickup is the next step up from buy online, pickup in store for ecommerce, which has also proven popular although many retailers lag in that area and the experience isn’t always stellar.
Walmart has been trying all kinds of last mile approaches for grocery, from a failed experiment with associate delivery to an aborted partnership with startup Deliv; it still uses others like Door Dash and Postmates. But curbside pickup, while requiring associates to pick and ferry orders, is a much cleaner operation. It is also testing self-serve kiosks for grocery pickup, curbside’s cousin.
While Target also offers curbside pickup, it is putting more effort behind same-day delivery with its acquired Shipt unit, now available in 200 markets. Grocery has been the main category but Shipt has been expanding into many other areas.