US supermarket currently testing a scheme that sees workers drop off packages for pay on their commute in attempt to close gap with rival Amazon
US supermarket giant Walmart is asking employees to deliver online orders to customers on their way home from work in an attempt to close the gap with rival Amazon.
Walmart, which employes about 1.5 million workers in its 4,700 US stores, said it “just makes sense” for them to deliver packages on the way home as 90% of Americans live within 10 miles of one of its stores.
Marc Lore, Walmart’s head of e-commerce operations, said the scheme would cut shipping costs, increase speed of delivery and allow workers to earn extra cash.
“It just makes sense: We already have trucks moving orders from fulfilment centres to stores for pickup,” he said in a blog post. “Those same trucks could be used to bring ship-to-home orders to a store close to their final destination … Imagine all the routes our associates drive to and from work and the houses they pass along the way. It’s easy to see why this test could be a gamechanger.”
The company has been testing the new delivery process with workers at three stores for the past month, but did not offer details about where or when the plan would be expanded across the US.
The “last mile” of deliveries, when packages are driven to customers’ homes, are often most expensive part of the online delivery process and a challenge that many supermarkets and delivery companies are trying to solve.
Tesco is attempting to use robots to delivery groceries in the UK. Britain’s biggest supermarket this week announced it had successfully used a six-wheeled buggy to deliver food from stores to homes in some parts of central London.
The company said it planned to widen the pilot scheme in partnership with Starship Technologies, who make the robots that have also been used by takeaway company Just Eat. The robots will be able to carry items within a three-mile radius.
Amazon has also been testing drones for deliveries in the UK. In the US, Walmart has been struggling to keep up with Amazon’s fast deliveries, which have tempted some shoppers to switch from travelling to the supermarket to having their goods delivered via Amazon Prime, which offers next-day delivery in more than 5,000 US cities.
Lore has been spearheading Walmart’s drive to catch up, since the Arkansas-based retailer bought his Jet.com online delivery firm for $3.3bn last year. At the time, Walmart said the purchase of Jet was “another jolt of entrepreneurial spirit being injected into Walmart”.
Lore, Jet’s founder and chief executive, became Walmart’s president of e-commerce as part of the deal.
The delivery trial is voluntary for store workers, who can sign up for a maximum of 10 deliveries a day. The retailer did not share details on pay for those deliveries. The test is limited to three stores in New Jersey and Arkansas. The announcement came ahead of Walmart’s annual shareholder meeting on Friday.
Walmart, which owns Asda in the UK, is the world’s largest retailer and made $486bn revenue last year, compared with Amazon’s $136bn. But Walmart has made little inroads online, while Amazon accounts for about a third of all online orders.
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