NEW YORK – The online grocery wars are getting fiercer.
Wal-Mart said Wednesday it's expanding its service that allows customers to order groceries online and then pick them up in the parking lot of their local store.
The nation's largest food retailer said it is adding eight new markets this month to its free curbside grocery pickup service. They include Kansas City, Missouri; Austin, Texas; and Charleston, South Carolina.
Wal-Mart, based in Bentonville, Arkansas, has been offering the service in roughly 150 stores in 22 markets. By the end of April, it will offer it in roughly 200 stores in 30 markets. Wal-Mart operates more than 4,500 namesake stores in the U.S.
It says it will to add more locations offering the curbside service over the course of the year.
The move comes as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. aims to further capitalize on its power to combine its brick-and-mortar stores with online shopping. That focus is different from other rivals like Amazon.com and Instacart, which are delivering groceries directly to shoppers' homes.
Wal-Mart says more than 30,000 fresh groceries, baby products and household items can be ordered online and picked up at the participating stores.
It works this way: Shoppers order groceries online and can get same-day pick up if ordered by 10 a.m.. Wal-Mart workers load the customer's car.
Wal-Mart says 90 percent of its curbside customers are repeat users and more than 90 percent of its baskets include fresh grocery items like dairy and produce.
The other new markets for the curbside service are: Boise, Idaho; Richmond and Virginia Beach, Virginia; Provo, Utah; and Daphne, Alabama.