The November delivery from Wal-Mart's subscription food service… (Wal-Mart )
Retail giant Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is launching a food subscription service that will mail customers new treats to sample at home.
Called Goodies, shoppers will receive one box a month filled with five to eight foods currently not available in Wal-Mart stores, such as organic or international items. The service costs $7 a month.
For November, Wal-Mart plans to mail a box with pumpkin pie spice tea, white cheddar popcorn, a flourless chocolate souffle mix and wine biscuits.
Wal-Mart, which said this summer that it was planning a subscription food program, began testing the service three months ago. About 3,000 customers have already signed up at www.goodies.co, according to the Associated Press.
Ravi Raj, the vice president of products at the company's research arm, Wal-Mart Labs, told the AP that a food subscription program is "inherently very social."
"People love to talk about new food," he said.
The world's largest retailer is hoping to bolster that social aspect of eating by creating an online community where customers can earn points that can used later to buy products in stores by posting reviews of the sample treats. Shoppers who like particular items can also buy full sizes of the goods at the Goodies website.
Wal-Mart is also viewing the service as a way to spot -- and capitalize -- on popular new foods to stock in its stores. Raj said that despite Wal-Mart's reputation as a large grocer, "there's room for us to innovate."
The retailer recently launched with American Express a prepaid card called Bluebird that works much the way a debit card does. The company is also testing same-day delivery during the holidays in select markets.
The subscription model has taken off in the last few years as mostly online retailers launch services for food, shoes, makeup and even underwear.
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