A Year of Walmart Grocery

Late last summer, I was watching a video on YouTube about how to save money on your monthly grocery bill. I was new to town and hadn’t yet settled on a grocery store to use. The one closest to my house is small, with over a third of shelf-space dedicated to non-grocery items. Their sister-brand discount chain is ten minutes up the road, selling the same store brand items for almost 30% less, which made me mad. The video suggested using a store grocery pickup service to keep under budget. The only store at the time in my area that offered that service was Walmart.

Before now, I hadn’t been a fan of Walmart. The stores were run down, poorly merchandised, and filled with junk. At least that was what the Walmart was like in our old town. My local Walmart is a lot nicer. It’s newer, clean, bright, and mostly well stocked. Still, I didn’t believe that I could get all of the food items that I needed at Walmart Grocery. Going into the store, it felt like it was almost all junk food, with few quality ingredients.

Wanting to stay on budget, and with a $10 coupon in hand, I decided to give online grocery pickup at Walmart a try. I was pleasantly surprised! Not only did they have every ingredient I needed (some are a bit exotic), but they were almost always in stock. I ordered grocery items I had never seen inside of Walmart, which was awesome. Their prices absolutely crushed their local competitions. As a bonus, almost everything has the same unit price as Sam’s Club, so I can get a good deal without having to deal with bulk.

From a business perspective, Walmart sees huge opportunity to grow their business through a growing grocery business. Amazon is in the space with their purchase of Whole Foods, but I’ve never been in one so I don’t know exactly what changes were made. Regardless, grocery is now an important segment, which explains why they would literally pay people to shop for me just for the chance to capture that business.

The early days were spotty, there weren’t too many customers and items were frequently out of stock. Inventory management is truly make or break in groceries. Walmart will either substitute you with a larger quantity or better brand, at the lowest price possible. So if I ordered a generic 16oz peanut butter and they were out, they might give me a 16oz name brand, or 32oz name brand, at the 16oz generic price point. If, for whatever reason, they don’t have an substitute, they mark an item as unavailable and take it off of your order. This is less than ideal, especially if its a key ingredient.

Substitutions and out of stock items were common last year, but in the past several months, things have been much better.

Two more nice things about online shopping with Walmart. First, if an item is recalled, like all of that lettuce was a few months ago, they automatically refund your money for the recalled item. Second, if there is literally anything wrong with an item, you send them an email and the refund the purchase.

My primary goal for switching to Walmart Grocery online pickup was to keep under budget. By adding items to the cart, I can see at all times the price of my order and make adjustments as necessary. With the substitution and refund policies being very customer friendly, paired with their rock bottom prices, it really is the best deal in town. That, and not having to move through the store with three little ones twice a week.

© 2019 Chet J. Collins