Walmart’s Sam’s Club launches curbside pickup nationwide

Walmart’s online grocery business has been a significant contributor to its growing e-commerce sales, particularly now amid the coronavirus pandemic. Now the retailer is expanding access to curbside pickup at its warehouse club chain, Sam’s Club. Today, Sam’s Club announced the nationwide launch of curbside pickup, bringing the service to all its 597 clubs across the U.S. by the end of June.

The retailer had been piloting curbside pickup at 16 club locations before today’s launch and saw positive results, it says. With the pandemic sending more shoppers online, Sam’s Club has since expedited the rollout to all locations, where it’s free for Plus-level members and above.

To use the service, Sam’s Club members can either order online or via the Sam’s Club mobile app by looking for products marked as “Pick up in Club.” At checkout, they’ll then be able to select a pickup time. Same-day pickup will be one of the options, the retailer notes. Similar to how curbside works at parent company Walmart, Sam’s Club shoppers will park in one of the designated spots when they arrive at the store and a Sam’s Club employee will load the items into the customer’s car.

Store associates, meanwhile, use custom-built technology like the Quick Pick app for employees, which is used to pick and dispense orders.

Online pickup orders can be scheduled from 7 AM to 9 PM, Monday through Saturday, and 10 AM to 5 PM on Sundays, the retailer says.

While the service is free for Plus members, it will also be offered to non-Plus members for a limited time. However, they will have more limited time slots available: 10 AM to 8 PM, Monday to Saturday, and 10 AM to 5 PM on Sundays.

“While free Curbside Pickup is a new Plus member benefit, we recognize all of our members are looking for contact-free shopping options as part of the current environment,” said Lance de la Rosa, chief operating officer, Sam’s Club, in a statement about the launch. “Because of that, we are going to temporarily make the service available for every member and do what we can to help them get the products they need, when and how they want them.”

Of course, the company’s long-term plan is to get these free members to upgrade, while also taking away more business from online grocery rivals, including Amazon, Instacart and Target’s Shipt.

Even ahead of the pandemic, Walmart had been surging ahead of Amazon as consumers’ preferred online grocery provider. It’s also now reportedly looking to rebrand its unlimited online grocery delivery service as Walmart+. Combined with Sam’s Club’s new option for curbside, the retailer will have a number of ways for consumers to shop from a Walmart-owned store.