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Walmart Launches Goodies Co., A Food Subscription Service That Delivers Artisanal Eats To Your Door

The big-box retailer's newest e-commerce venture is a monthly subscription service that delivers small batches of gourmet treats for a flat monthly fee.

Walmart, the world's biggest big-box retailer, is now giving customers the option of getting small boxes of treats delivered to their doorsteps, through its new monthly food subscription business.

The subscription service, Goodies Co., launches today from @WalmartLabs, the giant's Silicon Valley-based innovation brain trust.

For a flat fee of $7 a month, Goodies will deliver a box of sample-sized treats to your doorstep. Each box is loosely designed around a theme—November's is "Easy Entertaining"—and contains five to eight gourmet sample snacks. This month, for example, subscribers will find items such as wine biscuits and dark chocolate-infused quinoa bars, which are foods you won't necessarily find at your local Walmart.

That's intentional, says WalmartLabs' VP of products Ravi Raj.

"We don’t want to carry run of the mill products," he tells Fast Company. "We want them to evoke a sense of passion and excitement in our customers. The key thing is having that 'wow' factor."

The hope is that "wow" factor, combined with the novelty of discovering new products each month, will be compelling enough for subscribers to go buy full-sized versions of snacks at the Goodies Co. Shop. This helps Walmart learn which products resonate with its customers, which helps it serve them better in its retail stores, where the real money is for the company. (Fast Company explores this and other cornerstones of WalmartLabs' vision in an upcoming magazine feature.)

Walmart is also looking to glean insight from subscribers through a product rating system on the Goodies site that lets eaters review the items they've sampled. Goodies rewards reviewers for their contributions with loyalty points they earn through rating, writing a review, or uploading a photo. If subscribers earn enough points, they can trade them in to get their next month's box free.

Each Goodies product is initially rated by members of what Walmart calls the Tasting Lab, its internal feedback group that determines which products end up in taster boxes. But in true e-commerce fashion, customer feedback on Goodies can sway that initial rating, which helps provides a more accurate reflection of what customers think. Raj says almost half of Goodies' 3,000 private beta testers write reviews, while more than a third of them end up reviewing every product in the box.

"The whole social aspect of this is critical," Raj says. "This is a two-way dialogue. It isn’t about us sending products and you just getting and eating them."

Goodies is the latest in a slew of products that have come out of the WalmartLabs pipeline since its inception last year following Walmart's acquisition of Kosmix, a social media technology company. WalmartLabs has previously launched e-commerce- and social media-driven products including Shopycat, a social-driven gift discovery engine, and Social Media Analytics, a tool that analyzes social chatter to select which items Walmart should carry. Goodies is further evidence of how Walmart is using its digital platform to surprise its customers with novel ventures so it can start to solidify its reputation as a company that gets both social media and e-commerce.

[Image: Goodies Co.]

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