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Driverless delivery coming to Houston, now.

Texas T

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It's the future. We (WM) can barely keep up with the growth of online grocery shopping and we're adding hundreds of stores as fast as we can. We're piloting home delivery in some markets but that's a much tougher thing to control compared to the customers coming to the store to pick up their groceries themselves.

On a side note, I just got accepted by Waymo's "Early Rider" (beta tester) program. They have been testing their autonomous vehicles here in the Chandler area for several years now and have recently started adding riders to the fleet. They will still have a safety person at the wheel. I had to sign a big NDA so I don't know how much/little I'll be able to talk about once I start using the service.
 

StromXTc

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I see where HEB has parking places out front and you text HEB saying your here and waiting outside for your groceries. So some one has picked your stuff. So is it free? or does it cost extra I'm sure.

Wal-Mart does the similar thing, correct? How much does it cost?
 
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I see where HEB has parking places out front and you text HEB saying your here and waiting outside for your groceries. So some one has picked your stuff. So is it free? or does it cost extra I'm sure.

Wal-Mart does the similar thing, correct? How much does it cost?
Pretty much every major grocery chain has their version of “click and collect”...costs vary. My wife likes using Kroger’s system, but I don’t care for it. It seems like there are always two or three items we select that they don’t have in stock. They substitute something similar that you can choose to keep or not. That drives me a little crazy...I usually would have chosen a different substitute and would have to then go into the store and buy it separately.
 

StromXTc

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I'm amazed that people would knowingly increase the cost for something this simple. But, to each his own. All for any new nich that will be a supported enterprise for profit. This actually harkens back to the days before individual supermarket shopping at the turn of the 20th century. Just as the industrial revolution caused great changes in human society, so has the information age....self driving automobiles
 

mitchntx

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While actually driving to and shopping in my local Walmart, I saw a couple workers stocking tubs from a list.
I assumed it was on-line shopping/curb side delivery service.

They were just grabbing packages and placing them in the tubs.
Not looking for bruises on fruit or the leanness of the meat.
Maybe it's just me, but I inspect fresh, raw items pretty close.
This has the appearance ... for me at least ... to be a bit disappointing and not unexpected.
 

Jarrett

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It is a flat rate. The item has to be on their website, I think. Which most are.

I still like to go in and eyeball stuff myself, but the pickers are in my way now instead of other customers :)
 
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StromXTc

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5 bucks ain't bad. Will increase gradually over time as more take advantage of it. Then it will become like cable TV prices.

Hey j-j-jaded
 

Tourmeister

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While actually driving to and shopping in my local Walmart, I saw a couple workers stocking tubs from a list.
I assumed it was on-line shopping/curb side delivery service.

They were just grabbing packages and placing them in the tubs.
Not looking for bruises on fruit or the leanness of the meat.
Maybe it's just me, but I inspect fresh, raw items pretty close.
This has the appearance ... for me at least ... to be a bit disappointing and not unexpected.
I would venture to guess that this might be an issue at first, but as more customers use the service and start complaining about stuff like bruises, spoilage, etc,... that the stores will have to pay attention.
 
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I enjoy seeing and trying new things found at my local HEB. I do see where where a single mother or any parent that doesn't want to deal with undoing car seats and dragging along kids would much rather pay the $5 for convenience. The more parents that do that, it also makes my shopping experience better.
 

Tourmeister

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I enjoy seeing and trying new things found at my local HEB. I do see where where a single mother or any parent that doesn't want to deal with undoing car seats and dragging along kids would much rather pay the $5 for convenience. The more parents that do that, it also makes my shopping experience better.
Totally agree with this. With three kids, it was always an ordeal when they were younger and Beth would take them shopping while I was at work. Even now, it is just a time factor. We home school. So for her to take time out of the day to go into town really eats into school time and can get the kids behind. They are at least finally getting old enough that we can leave them home alone for a while. But for parents of small kids, this would be a HUGE convenience.

On a somewhat related note, HEB has these little packaged meals they make for around $5. They are NOT frozen. Beth has brought a few of them home. I am not sure what part of the store she gets them from, maybe the DELI section? Mine had a steak, green beans, and potatoes. They are actually quite good. For a single person that might not want the hassle of cooking, these would be far better than going out for fast food and they are fresh, so not all the salt so many of the prepackaged microwave meals have in them.
 
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My local HEB has offered curbside pick up for almost year now. My wife has done it a few times (married w/0 kids) just for the convenience factor. It's a flat $5, but usually we get coupons out of the deal to help offset the cost. I think the last time we did it, my wife had a coupon for $10 off a basket of $30 or more so it evened out.
 

Texas T

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I can speak to some of the questions/concerns, but only from the Wally World perspective.

  • Cost: $0 for store pickup. $5 on up (sliding scale) for home delivery to your front door. We only have this on a very limited scale across the country.
  • Substitutions: With us you choose whether or not you want the store to attempt to substitute for an Out Of Stock item. If you agree to a substitution then the substituted item is either larger or a better name brand (never a generic or house brand) yet you pay your original lower price. And if you just don't want the substituted item you merely tell them, they remove it from the order, and you're not charged for anything.
  • Fresh Fruit / Meat: We use a WIBI (pronounced wee bee) guide to decide what to select for a customer. It stands for Would I Buy It? Fresh is huge touch point for us. If you are not happy with your selection an email or a phone call complaint will get you a return call, an apology, and most likely a discount on your next order. The order pickers are tracked so we can go back and "have a discussion" with that person. Online Grocery customer satisfaction is probably the highest store focus right now.
  • When you're notified that your order is ready you can acknowledge it in the Walmart Grocery App that you are on your way. When the store gets that message they begin pulling your assembled order together from the Ambient storage, cooler storage, and freezer storage. The App updates the store to let them know how close you are to the store. When I pulled in to get my last order a couple of weeks ago the associate was already outside waiting for me. Therefore, no need to call or text the store to let them know you are waiting outside.
  • As Strom mentioned, this is a return to the way things used to be when the grocer would do the "shopping" for you so that you just showed up, paid, and went on your way.
  • Woodsguy mentioned that he enjoys grocery shopping - I detest it. My store will convert to Online Grocery in a couple of months and I can't wait. The wife can order stuff from home, I'll get off of work, get my car, drive to the pickup spot, get my groceries and go home. I currently do this already with the Pick Up Today program for non-food items.
  • For those who are concerned about others choosing their meats and produce there is a simple solution if you don't otherwise enjoy shopping. Go to the store, pick out your fresh products, and as you're getting ready to check out just let the Grocery folks know you're there to pick up your order via the App. Drive around to the side/back of the store, get your bags loaded and head on home.
  • Mitch, if the workers were stocking grocery items to the tubs then yes, you saw them picking for an Online Grocery order. If they were picking product on the General Merchandise side of the store then you have a unique store (1 of about 100 in the country) that also fulfills Walmart.com orders. My store is one of those 100 locations, and we get orders to fill because we have a FedEx facility a couple of miles from us. We pick/pack the orders, load them onto a FedEx trailer at the dock, FedEx takes them to their local sorting facility, and the customer (local Phoenix area) has the product the next day. This saves us on shipping costs from one of our Dot Com distribution centers around the country and the customer gets it faster. Win Win.
  • Pdef and Scott, "convenience" is truly what drives this part of the business. Personally, once we start doing home delivery in my area I'll be all over it. One of the reasons I signed up with Waymo is because we are supposedly doing a free ride service in which they will come to the house, take me to the store where my groceries will be loaded, and then the car will take me back home. Think about seniors / handicapped folks that can no longer drive and how this helps to give them more freedom to shop when they want.
  • If anyone has any questions, feel free to post them.
 
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I bet it's not one week before there is an attempted carjacking of the driverless cars ... kind of speaks to the general IQ level of our "perps" down here, but I wouldn't discount drunken antics by a group of frat boys either ...
 

mitchntx

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  • Fresh Fruit / Meat: We use a WIBI (pronounced wee bee) guide to decide what to select for a customer. It stands for Would I Buy It? Fresh is huge touch point for us. If you are not happy with your selection an email or a phone call complaint will get you a return call, an apology, and most likely a discount on your next order. The order pickers are tracked so we can go back and "have a discussion" with that person. Online Grocery customer satisfaction is probably the highest store focus right now.
  • Mitch, if the workers were stocking grocery items to the tubs then yes, you saw them picking for an Online Grocery order.
It was grocery items and my immediate reaction was freshness, expiration date, bruising or damage ...

The accountability side of it is interesting.
 

Texas T

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It was grocery items and my immediate reaction was freshness, expiration date, bruising or damage ...
The accountability side of it is interesting.
It's key to getting this kind of shopping accepted on a mass level. If people have a couple of bad experiences with bruised fruit, out of date meats, etc, they will probably not use the service in the future.

It was interesting that this article popped up in my feed shortly after I wrote that long post yesterday... https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/companies/walmart-kroger-rethink-stores-as-online-grocery-battle-intensifies/ar-BBUPifr

Jarrett had mentioned that the shoppers are more in his way now than the regular customers, and the article addresses that very topic.
 

jfink

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Late in my career I worked with technology delivery and process redesign within the corporation I worked for, I really enjoyed that work. Everyone knows that technology is a business disruptor. Here are my thoughts.

The current systems are designed around the retail shopper. The question is, "will consumers accept technology advances and automated curbside or home delivery?" Redesigning the current process is a choice of evolution or revolution. Existing corporation are taking the "toe dip" redesign approach. They are mixing automated delivery with the current retail markets to see how that works. It's inefficient, confusing and alienating. But the automated delivery segment is small right now. And these inefficiencies can be tolerated.

If I were starting a new grocery system, I would separate the online process from the conventional store design. Build separate central "warehouses" designed specifically for online delivery which use autopicking technology and automated deliveries. These systems would be designed to allow for easy update as technology improves. I would convert the current large grocery store "department" model to smaller local store fronts with larger produce and perishable selections. The central warehouse will deliver to the home for consumers who elect that convenience or to the smaller storefronts for customers who want to select their own perishables.

The consumer gets the best of all options, more selection for non-perishables since the "large" warehouse will hold all non-perishables, more selection for perishables, since the "local storefront" will have larger perishable selection, cost efficiency since the automated processes will not interfere with local shopping and the whole inventory can be converted to more "just in time" management, and the consumer can take advantage of the convenience of home delivery at less or no cost. Of course there are issues to worked out, like how will consumers "shop" for items they aren't ready to select or how to manage the perishable inventory. Both of which are issues within the current model.

Obviously redesigning the current model for large corporations will be expensive. But the potential in cost savings, customer approval and the lost opportunity cost will eventually see new designs happen organically. Might as well get ahead of the curve. Of course there are risks, but there are always risks in business.
 

Texas T

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If I were starting a new grocery system, I would separate the online process from the conventional store design. Build separate central "warehouses" designed specifically for online delivery which use autopicking technology and automated deliveries. These systems would be designed to allow for easy update as technology improves. I would convert the current large grocery store "department" model to smaller local store fronts with larger produce and perishable selections. The central warehouse will deliver to the home for consumers who elect that convenience or to the smaller storefronts for customers who want to select their own perishables.
From the article above: "Walmart, which offers online grocery pickup at more than 2,100 stores, is now considering adding automation to its stores that could help with fulfilling orders, Foran said." Although the article quotes him as saying we are "considering" it, it's already in place and being tested: https://news.walmart.com/2018/08/03/associates-and-alphabot-team-up-to-make-walmarts-popular-grocery-pickup-service-even-better

And the automation is extending into the Distribution Centers as well: https://news.walmart.com/2018/10/18/hi-tech-walmart-announces-new-high-tech-grocery-distribution-center
 
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