Don't want to leave the safety and comfort of your vehicle but need some food for supper tonight? Have you been looking for another option to shop while avoiding a trek across the frozen parking lot?

The new online grocery pickup option opening May 29 at Wadena's Walmart could be useful to you regardless of the current pandemic situation. This service works by allowing users to shop online, park in a designated parking space and have all items placed in their vehicle. You choose your time slots and can place orders up to seven days out.

Wadena Walmart general manager John Wakeman said the Wadena store is one of the first of its size to get a feature like this.

"That's partly because this store is just a great little store," Wakeman said. "This store has a great reputation in the company and in the community."

Wakeman said it would have been nice to have it in place pre-COVID-19 but plans were approved to start prior to the pandemic. Construction of a canopy, parking spaces and a space behind the scenes is devoted to the assembly of these orders. Wakeman said this was a significant investment, but one that he knew would be much appreciated by customers. The heavy use indicates it was something consumers were looking for.

The process of ordering online is fairly simple and gives you an abundance of information about the products you are buying. Once ordered, the technology is such that if you are logged in upon arriving, staff inside the store are notified of your presence and can practically meet you as you park, Wakeman explained.

Wakeman said it's crazy how fast technology is changing retail. This service gives the staff a map leading them to the products throughout the store so they can quickly complete your shopping. You have an hour to complete your list and maintain your time slot. While some time slots on some days fill quickly, you can in some cases fit in an order during the day and pick it up shortly after. Or you can order up to seven days in advance.

Wakeman hinted at further technologies that grocery stores are trying like having staff deliver goods to your home while you are away. You can watch their every move through body cams worn by the delivery staff. Other stores are even using robots to deliver goods within a few blocks of the stores.

Those technologies are likely a ways from coming to Wadena, but until then, enjoy shopping and pickup without leaving the comforts of your car.

How to use it

So you don't want to enter the store to do your shopping? There are many reasons beyond COVID-19 for not wanting to leave the comfort of your car. If that fits you, here's some tips on how to use the new service.

  1. First visit grocery.walmart.com or download the Walmart app. You'll need to sign in or create an account with Walmart.
  2. After signing in you'll choose the pickup option, choose your store location and save that as preferred store.
  3. Next choose the time of pickup.
  4. Choose your items ($35 minimum order), checkout and include your phone number or email to get notification that your order is ready.
  5. Once you arrive, if you are logged in, staff should know you're there. If not, dial the number on the signage at your pickup spot.