By Christine Kern, contributing writer
New test leverages associates to get online orders to customers’ doors.
Walmart has announced that it is Beta-testing a new service that leverages its store associates to help with the fulfilment of online orders by delivering items directly to customer homes. As the blog post asserts, “Not only can this cut shipping costs and get packages to their final destinations faster and more efficiently, it creates a special win-win-win for customers, associates, and the business.”
Associates can volunteer for the delivery tasks as an avenue to making additional money, Walmart U.S. ecommerce CEO Marc Lore explained. “If they choose to opt in, we’ve built technology that allows them to set preferences” including number, size, and weight of packages and which days they are available to make deliveries. Packages will be allocated based on minimizing the collective distance workers must veer their commute to make a delivery, according to the post.
While the program is still in trial status at three test locations – two in New Jersey and one in northwest Arkansas –Lore remarked that the response from associates and customers alike “has been great,” said Lore. Through this program, many orders can be delivered the next day, and associates appreciate the opportunity to earn more money, he said.
Ravi Jariwalla, corporate spokesman for Walmart U.S. e-commerce explained that associates earn an added pay for delivery while driving home on their normal route. The employees have the choice to participate, but everyone who is chosen for the final mile tasks must pass a background check and their driving record is also reviewed.
The program also leverages Walmart’s strength in numbers with its 4,700 physical stores across the U.S. and more than one million store associates. The physical stores place items within 10 miles of 90 percent of the U.S. population. Lore explained, “Now image 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 game-changer.” Lore also stated the GPS capabilities built into the Walmart app are also allowing associates who opt into the delivery service to find quicker routes home as a result.
Ultimately, Lore states, “What I’m most proud of is how all areas of Walmart, from e-commerce to store operations to supply chain, came together to innovate rapidly for our customers – and in a way that puts our associates in control.”