Taking a page from the book of some high-end, direct-marketing retailers, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) today announced the launch of the company's Goodies Co., a monthly food-subscription service "for consumers to savor delectable foods and discover new items." Customers will pay $7 a month for a monthly package from Walmart containing five to eight "hand-picked taster samples ranging from healthy and organic to artisan and ethnic."

The company said it has tested the service with more than 3,000 customers across the United States. In its announcement, Walmart notes a comparison to similar services:

Unlike current offerings, Goodies Co. is the first to offer a large assortment of products for a total price that is almost half of the total value of the items if they were purchased separately. The total price for all of the items in the November box would be approximately $15 compared to the Goodies Co. $7 price.

Direct marketing retailer Harry & David, one of many companies to offer a similar though higher-priced service, filed for bankruptcy last year and posted a loss of $11.5 million in its most recent quarter. The bright side, at least according to H&D, is that sales attributed to direct marketing efforts rose in the quarter, and the company expects strong sales over the coming holiday season.

Can Walmart bust into this market? There's no reason why not, but the company is probably not looking for a big revenue boost from the effort. Rather, it is another in Walmart's social experience efforts. The company is tossing ideas against the wall and seeing which ones stick. The goal is primarily to get and keep Walmart in customers' minds whenever they want to buy anything. The plan could work because it is not very ambitious. Stay tuned.

Shares of Walmart stock are up 0.7% in premarket trading this morning, at $72.28 in a 52-week range of $56.26 to $77.60.

Paul Ausick


Filed under: 24/7 Wall St. Wire, Consumer Goods, Retail Tagged: WMT

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