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Wal-Mart partnering with Uber, Lyft to pilot grocery delivery program

Wal-Mart is testing a new way to bring products to your front door.

At the company's annual shareholders meeting in Bentonville, Ark., Friday, CEO Doug McMillon will announce a grocery delivery pilot with Uber and Lyft. The test will debut in Denver, Colo., and Phoenix, Az., over the next two weeks, and follows what the company called a "very quiet" pilot between Sam's Club and Deliv in Miami, Fla., in March.

The tie-up with that delivery company, which has scored investments with major mall operators including Simon Property Group, involves delivery of both grocery and general merchandise.

"We've been working on convenient new ways to make shopping easier for our busy customers and members. You can see this in our rapid expansion of online grocery pickup across the country," Michael Bender, an executive vice president in Wal-Mart's global-commerce division, wrote in a blog post.

That includes a grocery home delivery service that is currently offered in San Jose, Calif., and Denver, Colo.

To place an order for home delivery, a customer in one of the test locations goes online and selects the preferred delivery window.

Store associates will then select and prepare their orders, and request a driver from one of the companies to pick it up. Shoppers pay the retailer's standard $7 to $10 delivery charge online, and pay nothing to the driver when their order is delivered.

Wal-Mart's latest test comes as it seeks to use its network of stores to better compete against Amazon. To do so, it's leaning heavily on its grocery business.

On Thursday, the company announced that it will roll out online grocery at 14 more markets this month.

That service, which allows shoppers to order grocery items online and pick them up at the store the same day, will be available in more than 50 markets by the end of the month.

Though Wal-Mart is investing in its digital offerings, its growth there has decelerated. During the quarter that just ended, its global digital sales increased just 7 percent on a constant currency basis, with McMillon telling investors that "growth here is too slow."

"The U.S. number is better than the global number but neither is as high as we'd like. We can see progress against several of the necessary capabilities we need to win in e-commerce but we're still working on a few others," he said.

Wal-Mart's digital revenues still account for less than 5 percent of its business, according to eMarketer.

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