New program boosting Wal-Mart's online fortunes

Site-to-Store program spreads like wildfire

Wal-Mart Stores last week announced that its three-month-old program that lets customers order products online and pick them up at its brick-and-mortar stores has been spread to 3,300 stores in the U.S.

The Site-to-Store program was launched in March with 750 stores.

The U.S. retail giant said the program is key to its effort to utilize as many sales channels as possible.

"One of the goals of Wal-Mart.com is to be the premier multichannel retailer," stated a Wal-Mart spokesman, in an e-mail. "By that, I mean we want to make it easier for customers to shop Wal-Mart, regardless of which channel they choose to do so -- online, in stores or a combination of the two -- as is the case with Site-to-Store."

Unlike traditional online sales programs, Site-to-Store does not charge customers for shipping ordered products to Wal-Mart stores.

Ken Perkins, an analyst at consulting firm Retail Metrics, predicted that with Wal-Mart's success, more retailers are likely to adopt programs that let users order online and pick up their products at stores.

Rob Garf, an analyst at Boston-based AMR Research Inc., added that the new program is another indication that Wal-Mart has picked up its online business after a slow start.

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