Walmart is taking another big step to expand its grocery offering across Canada by expanding its partnership with Instacart, to roll out one-hour delivery to most of the country.
The move comes after testing one-hour delivery in Toronto and Winnipeg last year. The service will now be available at nearly 200 stores across Canada and will offer a wide assortment of Walmart products from fresh produce, meat and dairy to packaged personal and household goods.
Aside from delivery, Walmart now also offers in-store pickup at 175 locations, expanding to 190 by early next year, and pickup at nine Penguin Pickup locations in the Greater Toronto Area.
“Canadian families are busy. By introducing more online shopping options at Walmart, we’re helping make life easier and more convenient for them,” said Lee Tappenden, president and CEO of Walmart Canada, in a release.
While it may still represent a small percentage of their business, online grocery shopping and delivery have become very important to Canada’s big grocers in a short period of time.
Estimates vary, but Dalhousie University’s food industry expert Sylvain Charlebois has pegged the online grocery business at about 1.8% of the $120 billion market. But, he said, some experts expect that to grow to 7% by 2025. “It still may not look like much, but 7% would be almost $9 billion worth of food.”
The increasing number of e-commerce and delivery options across the broader consumer economy is changing habits and expectations. Where grocery delivery was once novel in Canada, evidence points to its growing adoption across the country.
Last year, Vancouver market research firm NRG found 28% of Canadians said they shopped for groceries online and 6% said online was their “main method” of grocery shopping. Eighteen months before, however, just 15% of respondents had bought groceries online.
Grocers have moved quickly to meet those expectations. Loblaw has partnered with Instacart for delivery while also pushing hard to promote its click-and-collect service. After launching first in Quebec, Metro recently expanded its delivery service in the GTA, while Sobeys is investing heavily in a partnership with U.K. grocery pioneers Ocado to build a sophisticated online ordering and fulfillment infrastructure in Canada next year.
The expanded Walmart delivery will be very similar to that piloted in Toronto and Winnipeg. Customers visit Walmart’s “storefront” at Instacart.ca or use the Instacart app, select their city and store, place their order and choose their delivery window—from one hour to five days. Instacart’s personal shoppers then pick and pack the order.
The service is now available in all provinces but Quebec.