Wal-Mart Stores announced on Tuesday it will begin testing a new in-store locker system that will allow a customer to select an item online, ship it for free to a locker at her local store, and pick it up at her convenience.
Wal-Mart's lead e-commerce executives described the program during a presentation on digital strategy to at least 20 reporters in San Bruno, Calf.
The in-store locker program, which will be tested in about a dozen U.S. stores, adds to a growing suite of delivery options now being offered by the company, including free shipping, ship-to-store, and expedited delivery to local FedEx centers.
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Neil Ashe, Wal-Mart's newly minted president of e-commerce, said the essential question facing his team is how to use online shopping to unite and expand the overall customer experience.
"We want to know every product and every person in the world, and connect them together," Ashe said. "We're aiming big."
Wal-Mart is also continuing to experiment with its answer to Amazon Prime—a same-day delivery program called "Walmart To Go." However, the program has yet to expand beyond five test markets in the U.S., including Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco.
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While the company would not comment on the timeline for broadening the geographic reach of same-day delivery, Walmart.com President Joel Anderson said they are receiving thousands of orders and getting positive feedback.
"We'll have the capabilities to expand," said Anderson. "But, today our customers want a broader assortment [of goods], and to be able to find us easier on the Internet. So that's what we put the emphasis on."
The growth numbers for product assortment seem to reflect this corporate priority. Wal-Mart's senior vice president of merchandising, Kelly Thompson, said the company now offers more than two million items online, which includes a 35-40 percent growth year-over-year. The company plans to double the number of products it offers online in 2013.
-By CNBC's Nikole Yinger
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