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Will Walmart Change How We Buy Groceries?

Earlier this month, a Walmart superstore in Warr Acres, Oklahoma debuted a 20-foot-by-80-foot, self-serving kiosk. It’s a mighty edifice that houses freezers and fridges, operating all day, seven days a week, in the parking lot of the store.

The kiosk operates something like a large vending machine. Customers approach the kiosk and enter a five-digit code they received after placing orders online. They must have purchased at least $30 worth of groceries. Within seconds, a locker containing their bagged orders opens up for retrieval.

This pilot project is the first of its kind for Walmart, though the chain has flirted with various streamlining innovations in the past three years, from online orders to home delivery services to smaller vending machines within stores. This move seems to be Walmart’s own signal that it’s trying to jostle for dominance in the quickening race to become the Redbox of American supermarkets.

Walmart’s most direct competitor is Amazon, who’s recently waltzed into this space with its AmazonFresh Pickup service within Seattle. It’s somewhat similar to Walmart’s giant vending machine from the future. You can pick up your pre-bagged groceries within 15 minutes of ordering online, and they’ll be loaded into your car by Amazon employees. There’s no minimum order charge.

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SOURCE: Food 52