Unexpected

Walmart Just Launched a Birchbox for Gourmet Food

Kale chips!
screen shot 2012 11 14 at 9 44 30 am Walmart Just Launched a Birchbox for Gourmet Food

It does look tasty.

We don’t tend to associate Walmart with either buzzy startup business models or high-end snacks. And yet GigaOm reports the ultimate superstore has launched Goodies, its very own subscription service, devoted to gourmet food samples. Think chocolate souffle and–seriously–kale chips

It’s the brainchild of in-house innovators WalmartLabs, who previously cooked up a Facebook gift-giving app. Now the company is giving discovery commerce a try–with the added benefit that it’s a good way for Walmart to test out the mass appeal of new products. WalmartLabs VP of product Ravi Raj told GigaOm:

“We want to introduce you to new types of food that you haven’t heard of before, not things you’d find at most mainstream stores.”

That sounds downright adventurous. People of Walmart stereotypes aside, could it be it’s time to reexamine our priors? Maybe Walmart is more than the cost-cutting, mom-and-pop-plaguing big-box store it’s generally considered to be. The company has even made forays into experiments with organic and locally sourced food (though those efforts didn’t really seem to catch on with shoppers).

Oh, wait:

Raj said Walmart aims to differentiate itself (and avoid the deadpool) by undercutting rivals with a cheaper price (most other products are about twice as expensive), offering a unique selection of items curated by in-house foodies and rewarding subscribers with a social loyalty program.

Undercutting startups with a cheaper price? Sounds like Walmart, all right.

Follow Kelly Faircloth on Twitter or via RSS. kfaircloth@observer.com