You know something has officially “made it” when it has its own Super Bowl ad. So by that completely arbitrary standard, it’s safe to say that grocery pickup is now “a thing,” thanks to Walmart.
Walmart shared its Super Bowl spot on its company blog today. The retail giant’s Big Game ad touts the convenience of grocery pickup using a host of sci-fi related pop culture icons like C3PO, Bill S. Preston from Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Buzz Lightyear, The Lego Movie‘s Wildstyle and Benny the Spaceman, Groot and a (much older) Flash Gordon, the titular character from the 1980s movie.
This is Walmart’s first Super Bowl ad and was, I imagine, a licensing logistical nightmare. It follows Walmart’s similar grocery pickup campaign from last year that featured famous cars like the Batmobile and Scooby-Doo’s Mystery Machine.
Walmart’s doubling down on its famous cameo count reflects the company’s continued push for consumer adoption of grocery pickup. According to a recent Retail Info Systems story, Walmart’s grocery pickup is currently available in roughly 3,000 stores.
Last year, Walmart also started experimenting with back-of-house automated fulfillment at its Salem, New Hampshire locations. Using Alert Innovation’s robotic system, Walmart can automate the assembly of an online grocery order so a consumer can pick it up directly from the store in as little as a half hour. Walmart’s automated fulfillment is similar to the ones powered by Takeoff Technologies, and both solutions aim to make the fulfillment of online orders faster and give the consumer flexibility to pick up their groceries while they are out and about (rather than having to wait at home during a specific time for delivery).
It’s not too surprising that Walmart is putting its marketing dollars behind grocery pickup instead of delivery right now. As noted, Walmart grocery pickup is broadly available, and the company only started rolling out its Delivery Unlimited subscription service nationally in September of last year. At that time, Delivery Unlimited was expected to hit 50 percent of the country by the end of 2019.
But if delivery keeps pace and spreads across the entire U.S. this year, then perhaps we’ll see a Super Bowl ad with a cavalcade of pop culture icons getting their groceries delivered directly to their doors next year.