January 29, 2014, 11:44 AM

Wal-Mart expands its online grocery test in Denver

Consumers can now pick up their web orders at about a dozen Wal-Mart stores. They can still opt for home delivery of groceries, which the retailer has been offering in Denver since October.

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The chess game between Amazon.com Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. over online grocery sales continues. Last month, Amazon began offering same-day grocery delivery in San Francisco, expanding its AmazonFresh service that already served Seattle and Los Angeles. This month, Wal-Mart added in-store pickup as an option for Denver consumers participating in its test of online grocery sales.

Wal-Mart began its test of its Walmart To Go online grocery service in Denver in October, but only offering home delivery. Today it announced that consumers can also pick up items in about a dozen Walmart stores in the Denver area.

Customers picking up in a store select a three- or four-hour window depending on the store and receive a call when their order is ready telling them where to go—the store pharmacy, drive-through window or a location on the side of the store. Once a shopper arrives, she enters her name and order number at a kiosk and a store employee brings the order to her vehicle.

There is no charge for picking up at a Walmart store; typically home delivery charges for Walmart To Go are $5-$7, depending on the delivery time selected. Amazon, which has no stores, offers free home delivery for AmazonFresh orders of $35 or more. However, Amazon charges a $299 annual fee to participate in AmazonFresh, while Wal-Mart is not charging shoppers to use the Walmart To Go service in its Denver test.

Amazon is No. 1 in the 2013 Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, while Walmart.com is No. 4.

Wal-Mart requires a $30 minimum purchase on all Walmart To Go orders. Consumers who select home delivery can choose a delivery window that varies between two and four hours. Wal-Mart stores pack the online orders and they are delivered in specially built Walmart To Go trucks that have separate compartments for frozen, refrigerated and non-refrigerated items. Wal-Mart promises same-day delivery for orders placed by 8 a.m. local time.

Wal-Mart declines to say how many consumers are participating in the limited test of Walmart To Go, but says that it has delivered "hundreds of orders."

Tens of thousands of items can be ordered through Walmart To Go, including fresh produce, meats and seafood, dairy products, bakery items, cosmetics, electronics and toys. Prices are the same as in Denver-area Wal-Mart stores. Wal-Mart says 90% consumers who have tried Walmart To Go in Denver have rated it “above average” or “outstanding,” selecting 4 or 5 on a 5-point scale.

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