The contest between Walmart and Amazon for control of America’s refrigerator and cupboard is escalating.
Walmart announced today (Oct. 3) that it had purchased Parcel, an delivery service that specializes in toting groceries and packages to the apartments of New Yorkers. Parcel will continue to deliver for its existing customers, but it will become the so-called last-mile courier for Walmart.com and Jet.com, the e-commerce company Walmart bought last year. Jet has been testing same-day delivery in New York, and Parcel will become the (literal) vehicle for that service’s expansion.
With the acquisition of Parcel, Walmart is poised to take on AmazonFresh, its same-day grocery service, and Amazon Prime Now, which delivers general merchandise, in the US’s biggest market.
Amazon’s takeover of Whole Foods in June signaled its intention to become a player in the $626 billion US grocery market dominated by Walmart. Likewise, Walmart’s purchase of Parcel, along with its acquisitions of Jet and smaller e-commerce companies like Bonobos and ShoeBuy, shows it plans on taking on Amazon’s primacy in online shopping.
The move also means Walmart has finally found a home in New York, where it’s been blocked in its efforts to open stores for years. Its latest efforts in Brooklyn were stymied by grocery unions and local politicians, and mayor Bill De Blasio is an outspoken opponent. The Arkansas-based chain, which has nearly 5,000 US stores, has been similarly denied in Boston, Seattle and San Francisco.
So far, Walmart has expanded its e-commerce offerings into those traditional left-leaning cities without much of a fight. As its delivery services grow, it can probably count on getting one from Amazon.