Wal-Mart is testing a same-day delivery service in select markets for customers who buy popular items online during the holiday shopping season.
The Bentonville, Ark.-based discounter is trying to cater to Web-savvy shoppers who are demanding more convenience.
Wal-Mart's tests started this month in northern Virginia and Philadelphia. The program rolled out to Minneapolis Tuesday. Wal-Mart plans to test the service in San Francisco and San Jose, Calif., later this month or in early November.
The program builds on a same-day grocery delivery launch in April 2010 in San Jose.
About 5,000 general merchandise items, including flat-panel TVs, toys and Apple iPads, will be available for same-day shipping. The delivery charge is $10 for an unlimited number of items, with no minimum purchase.
"This is truly to learn and better understand what our customers want," said Amy Lester, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman. She said that right now, the company has no immediate plans to roll out the service to other stores.
In a recent Wal-Mart customer survey, the majority of respondents said they would consider same-day delivery if available, and more than half said they would use it monthly or more frequently. Also, the survey found that electronics, toys, video games, movies and groceries were among the items shoppers wanted delivered.
Wal-Mart's service works this way: Customers place orders up until noon and then choose a four-hour window to receive the delivery the same day. The retailer is using UPS delivery trucks to deliver the merchandise.