Two developments this past week signal that Wal-Mart is getting more serious about the online world, and could very well have Amazon.com in its crosshairs. On Saturday, Wal-Mart began testing a new home grocery delivery service in San Jose, California called Walmart to Go.

As many Seattleites already know, Amazon.com has been developing its own version of home grocery delivery in Seattle since 2007 called Amazon Fresh. At this point, Amazon has contained the trial to Seattle as it works out the many logistical kinks associated with the business. (traffic patterns, delivery windows, etc.)

However, with Walmart dipping its toes into the market, could we see Amazon Fresh trucks start to roll in other markets?

It is certainly a possibility, though home grocery delivery is a complicated and tough business as players such as HomeGrocer.com and Webvan have already discovered. Stay tuned.

The Walmart to Go launch comes amid a deeper push by the Arkansas retailer into the online world.

Last week, the company purchased Kosmix, a social and mobile commerce startup led by Venky Harinarayan and Anand Rajaraman. Those names should be recognized around these parts. They sold their previous company, Junglee, to Amazon.com 1998.

As part of the acquisition, the former Amazon.com employees have been charged with helping to lead Wal-Mart’s newly-formed Silicon Valley research operation, @WalmartLabs. The company offers this explanation of the new entity:

Walmart plans to expand the @WalmartLabs team and expects this new group will create technologies and businesses around social and mobile commerce that will support Walmart’s global multi-channel strategy, which integrates the shopping experience between bricks and mortar stores and e-commerce.

Wal-Mart and Amazon.com have not always been the best of friends. In 1998, Wal-Mart sued its Seattle rival for allegedly violating trade secrets through the hiring of several key Wal-Mart employees.

The latest chapter in the rivalry will be interesting to watch, especially as Wal-Mart looks to take advantage of its physical retail presence and marketing power in 15 countries.

John Cook is co-founder of GeekWire. Follow on Twitter: @geekwirenews and Facebook.

Comments

  • Guest

    So the department is called “@WalmartLabs”?! I thought it was bad enough when companies adopted “1-800-” and “.com” as part of their names, but adopting Twitter syntax?

  • Pouncerp

    They need to focus on there stores and there sucky employees!

  • Anonymous

    Wow, are you kidding me, thats like the craziest thing ever dude. Wow.

    http://www.how-to-be-anon.at.tc

  • Sprezzatura

    The areas that are seeing the best success for home grocery delivery have one thing in common: population density (eg, NYC).

    WalMart, on the other hand, is not known for its success in major urban areas and in fact urban hipsters have a decidedly negative view of the brand. I can’t see them effectively competing in that market.

    • Guest

      I disagree. Although the inhabitants of urban areas such as Seattle take a jaundiced eye towards successful multinationals (e.g. McDonald’s), even the most prejudiced of hipsters can be convinced to embrace an independent-looking subsidiary of one (e.g. Chipotle).

  • BH

    This is a simmering B2C Cold War brewing for years. As a consumer I look forward to how this will play out.

    Cheers,
    BH

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