Consumer 360: This could be interesting
Walmart.com EVP Steve Nave and online grocer Peapod’s COO Mike Brennan are slated to share the stage at Nielsen’s upcoming Consumer 360 conference in Orlando June 20 to 22 during a session moderated by Adam Lashinsky, Fortune’s editor-at-large.
The session has the potential to be extremely interesting considering that Walmart recently began experimenting with home delivery of groceries in the San Jose area and already operates a successful home delivery business with in the United Kingdom through its Asda subsidiary. Meanwhile, Peapod is an early innovator in the online grocery space and was founded more than 20 years ago. Today, the company is majority owned by Royal Ahold, which operates stores in the Northeast under the Stop & Shop and Giant banners.
Nave joined Walmart.com in a finance role in late 2000 and has served in his current capacity since early last year with responsibilities that include accelerating the firm’s growth rate, improving the customer experience and developing innovative multi-channel retail capabilities. Prior to joining Walmart.com, Nave spent five years with Ernst & Young providing audit and tax service to retail, consumer products and technology clients.
Brennan is a P&G alum who left the packaged goods company for the A.T. Kearney consulting firm where he served as a principal prior to joining Peapod in 1987. During his tenure at Peapod, Brennan has at various times overseen marketing, transportation, human resource, customer service, merchandising and technology.
While Peapod has been at the online grocery game a long time, Walmart’s recent initiative is clearly an experiment worth watching, as it feeds into the company’s desire to serve shoppers in urban markets. According to an interesting story in the New York Times about the service, Walmart packs orders in tote bags at a San Jose area store and delivers the goods in refrigerated trucks the next day. According to the article, the groceries available lean toward prepackaged goods. Customers cannot order beef to specifications, for instance — they must buy precut meat in a range of packages. And in the produce category, while fresh mangoes and bananas are available, oranges and lemons come in bags of several pounds rather than individually.
Walmart is wise to begin experiment with home delivery, especially since it already possesses the expertise internationally, albeit in a very different market. The company was also wise to grant an interview to the New York Times thereby ensuring widespread exposure for the experimental service as hundreds if not thousands of media outlets, bloggers and assorted content aggregators picked up on the news. Another stroke of genius involves the website for the service, which requires visitors to enter their city, state and zip to see if the service is available in their area. Asking for such information enables the company to gain insight into markets where shoppers might be receptive to the service and could help determine an eventual rollout strategy.