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12/06/2021

Walmart joins pilot for online WIC payments

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Walmart is participating in an electronic ordering pilot for WIC purchases.

Walmart is participating in an online pilot program designed to ease e-commerce transactions for members of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).

Administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), WIC provides federal grants to states for supplemental foods and other resources for low-income pregnant and postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk. Walmart is taking part in a WIC online pilot program run by the USDA and Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition, designed to make it easier and more convenient for customers in Massachusetts and Washington to order and pay for WIC-eligible items online using their electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card.

The pilot is designed to work toward establishing recommendations for the implementation of processes that allow WIC participants to use online ordering with online or in-person transactions to receive their WIC food benefits. The goal is to move toward broad availability of online ordering in WIC, as well as work to prepare for when online transactions become allowable in WIC. 

Walmart was one of the first retailers (along with Amazon) to allow customers using federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits (popularly known as food stamps) the option to pay with an EBT card when placing online orders for its pickup and delivery services. After initially launching the online SNAP pilot in Washington state, Walmart has been rolling the program out across the country.

As of August 2020, nearly 3,000 Walmart stores in 39 states are enabling customers who pay for groceries with SNAP benefits to have access to Walmart’s online pickup and delivery service, without having to meet the usual $35 minimum threshold for a digital order.

Through the program, customers can complete SNAP payments during online checkout instead of at the point of pickup, eliminating physical contact between associates and customers. In states that do not offer the online transaction of SNAP, Walmart offers SNAP at pickup. This allows customers to place their grocery order online with Walmart and transact using their SNAP benefit card for payment at the time of pickup in all stores with the pickup option.

SNAP benefits are growing in acceptance as a form of payment for online purchases by an increasing number of retailers that sell grocery products, including BJ’s Wholesale Club and Giant Food. Most recently, Stop & Shop, a banner of Ahold Delhaize USA, began allowing customers using SNAP benefits the option to pay with an EBT card when placing online orders for its pickup and delivery services.

“We look forward to collaborating with the Washington WIC and Massachusetts WIC agencies when the pilot goes live next year, and are eager to expand this offering to even more states in the future, in the same way we’ve scaled our SNAP online purchase program,” Walmart said in a press release.