Walmart said yesterday that it partnering with delivery company Instacart to pilot same-day delivery offerings in four California markets and Oklahoma.
CNBC reports that "Walmart’s partnership comes at a key time. Consumers are relying on grocery delivery at an unprecedented rate due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and some analysts believe customers will continue to shop online even as things go back to normal … By offering quick delivery, big chain grocers have a stronger position against Amazon, which offers grocery delivery services Amazon Fresh and Amazon Prime Now from its own warehouses and Whole Foods stores."
If the pilots work, it almost certainly presages a national partnership for Walmart and Instacart.
Instacart already delivers for Aldi, Target, Costco, Albertsons, Kroger and Walmart’s Sam’s Club, among other food and drug retailers.
- KC's View:
All of which, presumably, are okay with co-existing with Walmart on the same platform. The Instacart bed is getting pretty crowded.
I must admit that I am gobsmacked by this … simply because I do not understand why so many companies have decided that an undifferentiated approach to e-commerce is the best way to go … especially at a time when e-commerce has accelerated three or four years into the future, propelled by a pandemic that put a kind of rip in the space-time continuum.
I can understand why some companies might feel like they don't have the resources to invest in a proprietary approach, or at least one that prioritizes the retail brand, not the service provider's. But Walmart? Wegmans, which always has put a premium on a unique customer experience?
I've argued pretty much from the beginning that I understand why this a good business model for Instacart (which continues to see dark stores that do not require a retail partner, and the ability to weaponize customer data against its retail partners, in its future). But it makes a lot less sense for the retailers doing business with it. Sure, they get a short-term and low-cost solution … but are they losing the ability to differentiate themselves in the marketplace?
Y'know who must be kind of happy about this? Jeff Bezos, who now has an greater ability to argue against any threatened breakup of Amazon on antitrust grounds.