start your engines
Posted by Sara Zucker on December 16, 2009 12:51 PM
Wal-Mart's latest attempt at reeling in last-minute costumers this holiday season includes a drive-thru.
Yes, a drive-thru. No, it does not serve french fries.
Facing fierce competition from Amazon, the retail giant now allows customers to pick up online orders by driving up to select store locations, eliminating the pesky task of waiting for items to be delivered.
"There was a time when the online and offline businesses were viewed as being different," said Walmart.com chief executive Raul Vazquez. "Now we are realizing that we actually have a physical advantage thanks to our thousands of stores, and we can use it to become No. 1 online."
The Wall Street Journal reports that 40% of Wal-Mart's online orders are being delivered through its stores. Customers can shop online and have purchases shipped to a local Wal-Mart where items can be picked up at a drive-thru window. Once in the parking lot, however, Wal-Mart hopes that customers will be lured into its buildings for additional purchases, though doing so would defeat the purpose of avoiding lines and congestion.
For a brand now focused on going green with environmentally friendly packaging and products on its shelves, this isn't the most eco-friendly idea. A report from Carnegie Mellon, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and Stanford University showed that making an online purchase and having it shipped to your door uses fewer emissions than picking it up in-store. Considering that walmart.com features more than 1.5 million products, thousands of which are not available in stores, shoppers concerned about the environment may want to carpool.