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Wal-Mart, the 8,000-pound gorilla in retail with 4,300 U.S. stores, finds itself in an awkward position in many urban areas-its stores are few, and resistance is strong. One of Wal-Mart's more creative responses to this problem was rolled out Oct. 13: Give E-commerce customers free shipping (no minimum required) and let them pick up the order at a local FedEx office, which in an urban area is probably a lot closer than a Wal-Mart store.
The program, called FedEx Site to Store, has been piloted by Wal-Mart for months in Los Angeles and Boston, and this new move sharply expands the trial to New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Washington, D.C.
Wal-Mart also extended a related trial called Pick Up Today, where consumers can have products FedExed-also for free-to a nearby Wal-Mart store for pick-up. From a traditional retail perspective, shipping to the store is the more obvious approach, with the hope that consumers would buy other items while picking up what they ordered.
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