A Wal-Mart initiative in which consumers buy items from the Web site and then have the items delivered to their local stores has surpassed the company's expectations. Aboutone-third of all online sales occur through this program, according to Raul Vazquez, Walmart.com's CEO.
Offline retailers are increasingly offering a way for consumers to shop online but pick up the goods in stores, allowing them to avoid shipping costs and choose from a wider selection of items than their local stores can stock. Because customers tend to bolster these purchases with others once they get into the store, retailers are profiting handsomely.
Wal-Mart's program is unlike those of some other retailers in that Walmart.com's selection is much broader than a typical store. The Web site sells 44 HD television sets, for instance, while the typical Wal-Mart store carries just a few models.