Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Browsing for butter, lip balm on Walmart.com

September 24, 2008

grocery.jpgYou can look but you can’t buy — online at least.

Wal-Mart has started allowing visitors to its website to browse some of the groceries, health and beauty, and pet products that the discount giant sells in its stores.

Instead of being able to buy the items online, Walmart.com browsers can check to see if the products are in stock at a store near them.

Walmart.com spokesman Ravi Jariwala said the new feature will help consumers save time and plan their shopping trips before they hit a Wal-Mart store. He also said allowing website visitors to check if a product is in stock at a local store has become one of the most frequently used features on its website.

The products that Wal-Mart has added to its website are actually the ones that have been driving Wal-Mart’s U.S. sales this year.

Shoppers, pressured by the housing market meltdown, spiking gas prices, rising grocery bills and an uncertain job market, have been heading to Wal-Mart in search of low prices on everyday necessities, like food and toilet paper.

Now, before heading to Wal-Mart, they can check to see if their favorite brand of bacon or cereal is actually in stock.

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