Walmart leverages ‘employees’ for last-mile delivery initiative

Walmart has a new delivery team dropping off customers' online orders — but they don’t work for a major shipping company or third-party delivery venture.

The retail giant is testing a new delivery concept that leverages its own store employees to drop off online orders right at customers’ front doors. The new program is designed to solve the challenges associated with the last-mile of delivery, which include “cutting shipping costs and getting packages to their final destinations faster and more efficiently,” said Walmart’s U.S. digital chief Marc Lore.

The opt-in program, which is app-based, enables employees to set preferences, including how many packages they can deliver, the size and weight limits of those parcels, and which days they’re able to make deliveries after their work shift ends. The app also tries to minimize the collective distance associates need to travel off of their commute when making a delivery.

“Associates are fully in control of their experience. If they don’t want to participate, they don’t have to,” he said. “They can choose to opt in, and they can update those preferences at any time.”

The program is a strategic way to combat Amazon’s signature same-day delivery services. Between a network of 4,700 Walmart stores across the U.S. and more than 1 million associates, “our stores put us within 10 miles of 90% of the U.S. population,” Lore said.

“Now imagine all the routes our associates drive to and from work, and the houses they pass along the way,” he added. “It’s easy to see why this test could be a game-changer.”

The test is currently available in two New Jersey stores, and one in northwest Arkansas. Many orders are being delivered the next day.

Walmart associates are being paid to participate in the program, however the chain did not reveal their compensation, “Associates love having the option to earn more cash while doing something that’s already part of their daily routine,” Lore reported. “An unexpected benefit is they’re finding quicker routes home, thanks to the GPS built into our proprietary app.”