Will Walmart’s daily pickup hour for seniors cause operational challenges?

Discussion
Photo: Walmart
Apr 15, 2020
George Anderson

A wide variety of retailers, from Acme Markets to Whole Foods, have stepped up during the COVID-19 outbreak to offer designated hours during which senior citizens, those with underlying health conditions and first responders can shop apart from the general population.

Walmart, which has offered a “senior shopping event” every Tuesday since March 24, announced yesterday that it is going to do more for vulnerable shoppers and first responders by adding a daily pickup hour for them at select locations. Orders are picked up curbside and are contact-free. The retailer is initially offering the service at 2,400 locations across the U.S.

“Now more than ever, families are relying on our pickup service to help get quality, fresh groceries to their homes as safely as possible,” Tom Ward, senior vice president, customer product said in a statement. “These are extraordinary times, and we are constantly looking for ways we can help deliver that same peace of mind to all our customers, particularly those who are most at-risk.”

Walmart is reserving between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. local time for customers in this group. When they visit Walmart.com/grocery they will see an “At Risk Only” prompt that provides eligibility requirements. Customers within this group also have the option of reserving pickup slots during other hours offered by the retailer.

Those who are eligible can fill their carts on Walmart’s grocery site or by using the retailer’s app. A link to a map to see if the service is available locally displayed an error message when checked by RetailWire this morning. A check of pickup availability of any type in Linden, NJ found that all slots were filled between today and Monday, April 20.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What strain will Walmart’s designated daily pickup hour for seniors, at-risk individuals and first responders put on its store-level and supply chain operations in the locations where it is available? Do you expect Walmart to expand the offer to all its locations?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"I’ve got confidence in Walmart that they will be able to support this initiative seamlessly and quickly expand it to most of their locations with pickup."
"I’m sure there are some operational challenges, but who cares? It’s a great idea that’ll go a long way for the brand and keep their customers off the 900-pound gorilla’s site."
"I’ve gotta hand it to Walmart. It has shown a lot of flexibility for a giant. Pretty impressive."

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13 Comments on "Will Walmart’s daily pickup hour for seniors cause operational challenges?"


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Art Suriano
Guest

Many retailers set up specific hours for seniors, those at-risk, and health care providers weeks ago, so I’m happy to see that Walmart is joining the crowd. Considering that seniors are generally at high risk for the coronavirus it is wise to allow them a particular time to pick up what they need along with all high-risk customers. Health workers have been working insane hours, and if there is anything we can do to make their lives a bit easier like designated hours for them to shop then, by all means, we should do it. Hopefully these practices won’t need to be in place long, but as long as we remain under the law for social distancing, Walmart and all retailers with stores still open should provide that opportunity. I would expect Walmart to roll it out to all their stores soon.

Chris Buecker
BrainTrust

With this move, Walmart shows responsibility and that it cares about an important customer group: the seniors. I would promote the opportunity this offers, for example: “Hey, seniors, we understand that you need special treatment to protect yourself and we ensure that you will put yourself in less danger when you shop at our stores during these special hours.” This will be a strong message. Yes, I expect it to be expanded across the country.

Richard Hernandez
BrainTrust

It is definitely a very good thing to do for all retailers, but they have to have the workers to support it which means investing in store labor to keep it up.
I would think it would be difficult to take it away once it has been in place for a long time.

David Weinand
BrainTrust

While the offer is commendable and right, as you experienced, the challenge is that slots are very limited if they’re only offering this for an hour each day in certain locations. They’ll need to expand this program if they want to accommodate all who want this – This is important because as they say: “Not delivering on a promise is worse than not making the promise at all.”

Bethany Allee
BrainTrust

They’ve got the system in place and it’s working pretty well. I’ve got confidence in Walmart that they will be able to support this initiative seamlessly and quickly expand it to most of their locations with pickup.

Lee Peterson
BrainTrust

I’m sure there are some operational challenges, but who cares? It’s a great idea that’ll go a long way for the brand and keep their customers off the 900-pound gorilla’s site (maybe). We all know someone this benefits so again, great move.

Brent Biddulph
BrainTrust

Unlike some of their competitors, Walmart already has had the physical and digital infrastructure in place to support curbside pick-up for quite awhile, and better than most. They are wise to leverage this capability now in unique ways, and will undoubtedly learn and adjust as needed to maintain the competitive advantage in e-commerce grocery.

Steve Montgomery
BrainTrust

While I applaud the allotment of the hours for seniors, at-risk people and first responders, I agree the issue will be for these groups to take advantage of it given the limited slot times. Falling in the senior category I have explored their and other retailers’ pickup options. I found the same issue noted in the article. Order today and it’s at least a week or more before you can secure a slot. As more and more opt for this service the time lag between orders and available slots will get longer. While the program is admirable these delays negate much of the benefit.

Paula Rosenblum
BrainTrust

It sounds like the company is metering out the delivery slots to minimize disruption at the stores. I think this is yet another great idea and, as a side bright spot, allows people to get out of the house but stay safe.

I’ve gotta hand it to Walmart. It has shown a lot of flexibility for a giant. Pretty impressive.

Peter Charness
BrainTrust

Amazon methodically put its systems/distribution capabilities in place over a number of years. Walmart has innovated and turned on a dime. I believe they will get this offering right, expand it, and continue to surprise us with more customer service-based capabilities.

Heidi Sax
BrainTrust

I tried to use a Walmart competitor’s curbside pickup a few days ago and it was a big failure. I couldn’t even obtain the items I paid for after I went inside to customer service for help! Hopefully Walmart will make sure they’re giving their frontline workers the tools to succeed before rolling out to all locations.

Ed Rosenbaum
BrainTrust

Walmart has done a good job looking at and implementing new procedures to increase the safety of its employees and customers. I have no doubt they will be carefully tuned in to what is actually happening at the locations where this has been implemented before making it available store wide.

W. Frank Dell II
BrainTrust

Some years ago while walking in an early hypermarket, I commented that I would not be shopping in this store when I was 80 unless they have a bench and oxygen to rest. Food shopping for seniors with pick up solves this problem. While many Walmarts are not the primary household food store, especially for seniors, this will attract seniors and increase sales. While senior sales are lower per household, there are a growing number of senior households. The result is increased sales for Walmart Now the next step is to join the senior non-food purchases with the food purchases for one stop shopping.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"I’ve got confidence in Walmart that they will be able to support this initiative seamlessly and quickly expand it to most of their locations with pickup."
"I’m sure there are some operational challenges, but who cares? It’s a great idea that’ll go a long way for the brand and keep their customers off the 900-pound gorilla’s site."
"I’ve gotta hand it to Walmart. It has shown a lot of flexibility for a giant. Pretty impressive."

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