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    Wal-Mart Enables Online Products to be Shipped to Stores for Free

    BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. yesterday unveiled the first phase of its rollout of Site to Store, a service that offers free shipping to Wal-Mart stores on thousands of items offered through its Web site, Walmart.com.

    BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. yesterday unveiled the first phase of its rollout of Site to Store, a service that offers free shipping to Wal-Mart stores on thousands of items offered through its Web site, Walmart.com.

    The retailer has been testing the service in select stores since 2004, and during that time, Site to Store sales more than tripled, it said.

    Groceries and perishable items are not eligible for the Site to Store service at this time, Walmart.com spokesman Ravi Jariwala told Progressive Grocer yesterday. However, he noted, "We'll continue to monitor demand and evaluate opportunities to expand the service with new categories."

    Now Site to Store will be available in more than 750 stores in New Mexico, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, and select areas of Texas, California, Colorado, Tennessee, Georgia, and Mississippi. Wal-Mart said it will activate additional stores throughout the U.S. over the next several months and complete the national rollout to more than 3,300 stores by late summer.

    Tens of thousands of online products are available through the Site to Store service, which complements the assortment of merchandise available in Wal-Mart stores, especially in electronics, baby, home, sports, and toys.

    Items ordered through Site to Store arrive in stores within seven to 10 business days after the order is processed, and customers receive an automated e-mail to indicate their order is ready for pickup, according to the company.

    "Our extensive testing of the Site to Store service allowed us to create a multi-channel shopping experience that brings additional assortment, convenience, and value to our customers," said Raul Vazquez, Walmart.com's c.e.o., in a statement. "We found that nearly two-thirds of the customers who used the trial service also shop in Wal-Mart stores on a weekly basis."

    Mike Smith, Walmart.com's director of store integration, noted, "A key advantage of Wal-Mart's online channel is the ability to offer a much larger assortment of products through our virtual shelf space, while our offline channel's key strengths include our nationwide footprint with more than 3,300 retail store locations and a world-class logistics network capable of efficiently delivering online products to customers at our stores. Site to Store leverages each of these strengths to provide customers with a robust multi-channel shopping experience."

    Specific Site to Store messaging is featured on eligible product pages on Walmart.com to let customers know the online item can be shipped to a local Wal-Mart store for free. During checkout, customers can choose the Site to Store option, select the store where they'll ship their items, and even see the amount saved on shipping.

    Wal-Mart also said the new service supports its sustainability efforts. Transportation efficiencies have been realized by consolidating individual shipments into pallets and fewer trucks. Also, system upgrades allow participating suppliers to consolidate multiple items of an order into single cartons, minimizing the total number of boxes needed, it noted.

    The next phase of the rollout will include stores on the West Coast in the coming weeks, Wal-Mart said.

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