Wal-Mart Begins Testing Last-mile Delivery by Employee

Wal-Mart employees can now download a mobile app that suggests orders they could deliver on their commutes to and from work.

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Wal-Mart is turning its employees into a delivery fleet with its latest in a series of e-commerce fulfillment innovations. Employees can now download a mobile app that suggests orders they could deliver on their commutes to and from work.

In a blog post, Marc Lore president and CEO of Wal-Mart U.S. e-commerce, explains how the move not only helps get online orders to customers’ doors faster and more efficiently, but it cuts costs along the way.

“It just makes sense: We already have trucks moving orders from fulfillment centers to stores for pickup. Those same trucks could be used to bring ship-to-home orders to a store close to their final destination, where a participating associate can sign up to deliver them to the customer’s house. The best part is this gives our own associates a way to earn extra income on their existing drive home,” he adds.

Associates are fully in control of their experience. If they don’t want to participate, they don’t have to. If they choose to opt in, Wal-Mart has built technology that allows them to set preferences. Associates can choose how many packages they can deliver, the size and weight limits of those packages, and which days they’re able to make deliveries after work.

Packages are also allocated based on minimizing the collective distance an employee needs to travel off of their commute to make a delivery.

This last-mile innovation is one of a kind. Unlike crowdsourced delivery, where the driver has to travel (often out of the way) to pick up the package, then drive the full distance to deliver it, Wal-Mart associates are starting at the same place as the packages. Once they’re done working at the store for the day, they pick up the packages from the backroom, load them into their vehicle, enter the delivery addresses into the GPS on their phone and head toward home.

The service currently is only available from three store—two in New Jersey and one in northwest Arkansas.

Lore says so far the results have been positive. “Many orders are being delivered the next day, and associates love having the option to earn more cash while doing something that’s already part of their daily routine. An unexpected benefit is they’re finding quicker routes home thanks to the GPS built into our proprietary app,” he notes.