By Kelly Youngblood
The Champaign-Urbana market is finally ripe for Walmart’s grocery pickup service. The big box giant is trying to make shopping easier for its customers and for some families, it could be a total game changer.
On June 20, Walmart Supercenters in Champaign, Urbana, and Savoy unveiled the online grocery pickup service. (Meijer began offering a similar service in Champaign and Urbana last year.)
I got a chance to try out the new, FREE program this week and, overall, I was pretty impressed by the advantages it offers.
Here’s how it works:
To order, just go to https://grocery.walmart.com and pick whichever local store you will be using. You will need to have an online Walmart account set up if you don’t already have one.
Choose your items and add them to your cart. You can make special requests like “green bananas” or “ripe avocadoes.” If an item isn’t available they will try to substitute it- even if the substitution costs more, they won’t charge you for the difference.
There are over 20 departments to choose items from including deli, bakery, pets, and electronics. (I was happy to see you could order deli items online- it can be a pain to wait in line for cheese and lunch meat!)
Although the service features 30,000 items, the online grocery pickup service is limited to fresh and consumable items so apparel and general merchandise cannot be delivered to your car.
However, apparel and general merchandise sold online that are available in the store can be picked up inside the store.
Once you’re done ordering, you choose a pick-up time. Pick-ups are offered in one-hour time slots from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.
If you order before 1 a.m., your order will be ready to pick up after 8 a.m. that day. If you order by 10 a.m., your order will be ready for pickup after 4 p.m. that day.
I ordered my groceries around 11:30 a.m. which meant I couldn’t schedule a pickup until the following day. So you may want to take note of the cutoffs and deadlines for ordering groceries, depending on how quickly you need them.
After choosing your store location, groceries, and a pickup time, you will need to pay using a credit or debit card. Customers have to pre-pay, they cannot pay when they arrive at the store to pick up groceries.
An email will notify you when your order is ready. I got an email about 30 minutes before my scheduled pickup time.
Even if you’ve chosen a time slot, you still need to notify employees when you arrive at the store. This can be done in one of two ways.
You can drive to the store, pull into the designated online grocery area and call the number listed on a sign in the parking space. Or, you could download the Walmart grocery app, which will track you and let employees know when you have arrived.
I just called the number and a moment later, several friendly Walmart employees greeted me with my groceries. They asked if I wanted to see the produce and meat to make sure I was satisfied with the items (I was) and loaded them up in my van.
They also gave me a nifty tote bag with some free sample products. (Everyone will receive a similar gift with their first online pickup purchase.)
The entire process from start to finish was easy and effortless! Even if you are someone who enjoys walking up and down the aisles, I would highly recommend trying this service out. Even if you don’t use it all the time, it could be really helpful when you need to save some time.
So just to recap, here’s what I personally loved about Walmart’s online grocery pickup service
- It’s so easy to use.
- It saves me time. I spent 15 minutes on the computer and then five minutes at the store. It turned a one-hour grocery store visit into 20 minutes.
- It saves me money. I don’t throw those impulse items into my cart. I can compare prices easier when all of the options are listed in front of me on the computer. And I can see my total before I checkout so if I don’t want to spend that much, I can just remove an item from my order.
- The service itself is free- huge bonus!
- If you have children that you’d prefer not to take to the grocery store, this is a game-changer.
The only drawbacks I saw were:
- If you want your items right away, you’re out of luck. There are cut-off times to ordering and picking up so you may need to plan ahead.
- There are some items you can’t purchase online and have delivered to your car.
Have you tried the new online grocery pickup service? What did you think?
(Disclosure: we received a $35 gift card to try out the service, but no other compensation for this article. All opinions are Kelly’s.)