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Walmart may be the 800-pound gorilla of brick-and-mortar retail, but gorillas are capable of moving faster than it appears, and Walmart has proven that it's no slouch when it comes to digital.

From its adoption and use of social media to acquisitions of startups and digital agencies, Walmart may not be on the verge of dethroning Amazon, but it's clear that the retail giant believes the internet is a big part of its future.

One of Walmart's tools for making sure that future is bright is @WalmartLabs, an autonomous division of the company that is tasked with "redefining Commerce for the largest retailer worldwide."

Yesterday, it showed ones of the ways it's doing that with the launch of Goodies Co, a service that delivers a box of tasty treats to subscribers each month for $7/month. The six to eight treats are essentially sample products with a retail value approximately double that of subscription, and subscribers are given the opportunity to review and, if desired, purchase the products they've tried.

Walmart: future king of the clones?

The Goodies Co model isn't, of course, a Walmart innovation. The subscription model has been applied to physical products for decades, but in recent years, thanks to the internet, it has seen a resurgence. From ties to socks, numerous upstarts are proving that there's a market for delivering everyday goods to consumers on a subscription basis.

In the food niche, @WalmartLabs is following the lead of other companies with similar offerings. Competitors noted by TechCrunch's Sarah Perez include Love with Food, Pop-up Pantry and Sprigbox. But as Perez notes: @WalmartLabs, thanks to its corporate parent, has priced a Goodies Co subscription at a substantially lower price.

While that doesn't guarantee that Goodies Co will be a hit, it does highlight an interesting aspect of Walmart's digital initiatives: if the retail behemoth becomes adept at spotting new digital retail trends, learning what makes the upstarts exploiting them tick and implementing similarly respectable offerings, it could easily become a successful king of the clones if it so chooses.

Patricio Robles

Published 15 November, 2012 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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Comments (1)

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Anderson

Thanks for bringing this to our attention! There are plenty of LOCAL initiatives that already do this. The food is fresh and travels less. It is honest. We Don't need Walmart getting involved.

almost 4 years ago

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