HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Walmart began testing a convenience store concept called Walmart Pickup and Fuel in Thornton, Colo., and Huntsville, Ala., earlier this month. The new locations allow customers to order groceries online, then pick up the orders the same day, Forbes reports. The stores also provide traditional c-store products.
This isn’t the first time Walmart has made forays into the convenience store market. In 2011, Walmart opened the first of its smaller format stores called Walmart Express. But in January 2016, the discount retailer announced it would be closing more than a hundred Walmart Express units.
Some analysts are speculating that Walmart’s Pickup and Fuel may not be a concept that will meet consumer needs. “They’re creating a logistical nightmare for themselves that will have very little return,” said Meaghan Brophy, managing editor at Independent Retailer. “Sure, picking up groceries and getting gas at the same time is convenient. But is it more convenient than ordering Peapod and not leaving your house at all?”
But others view the concept as having possibilities. “Amazon Go is launching in the heart of a big city and seems aimed at millennials and the tech-savvy,” said Martin Mehalchin, partner at Lenati. “This Walmart format sounds much more like a suburban or even ex-urban concept. The U.S. is a big market with many different types of consumers, so both formats could find their fans and convert them into core consumers.”