Walmart is nudging online customers back into its stores by charging more for items it ships. Though the discount giant offers free shipping on orders costing $35 or more, the items themselves are a little more expensive if shipped. For instance, a box of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Dinner costs $1.48 on Walmart.com but only $1.28 in the store, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The newspaper points out that the strategy is intended to encourage shoppers to go and pick up the merchandise themselves. This decision is driven by the reality that shipping is expensive and also highlights the challenge that online retailers face in attempting to compete with their brick-and-mortar counterparts. Citing an analysis by consultant firm Spend Management Experts, the newspaper reports that it can cost a large retailer about $10 to ship that $1.28 box of macaroni and cheese from Chicago to Atlanta, depending on how remote the delivery address is.
Walmart does display the store price next to the online price for each item on its website. “We always work to offer the best price online relative to other sites,” a company spokeswoman told the paper. “It simply costs less to sell some items in stores. Customers can access those store prices online when they choose to pick up the item in-store.”
This and other strategies to boost store sales appear to be working: Walmart has boosted sales in existing stores for 12 consecutive quarters.
By Edmund Mander