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03 June 2017, 01:51 | Deanna Wagner
Walmart CFO Brett Biggs
Under the program, employees can make some extra income by delivering online orders using their own cars to the customer's house at the end of their shifts. The new program is created 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 US digital chief Marc Lore.
Walmart has stores within 10 miles of 90 percent of the USA population, the company says. "We take the packages and say, 'OK, this associate lives over here and they're going to drive this way all along the route.' So the distance is pretty short that they need to go off their commute".
In a blog post Thursday, Walmart e-commerce head Marc Lore called the program a "game-changer", saying it has resulted in next-day deliveries for many customer orders. "We already have trucks moving orders from fulfillment centers to to stores for pickup".
"Walmart is uniquely qualified, uniquely positioned, to be able to offer this", he said, adding that 90 per cent of Americans lived within 16 kilometres of a Walmart store. The company noted that many orders are being delivered the next day.
The last mile of delivery is a complicated and very expensive part of logistics. While Wal-Mart has made e-commerce acquisitions, the retailer said most of the online business gains were from Walmart.com.
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.
Garcia said that shipment tracking could also prove to be a wrinkle for Walmart, as online shoppers have grown accustomed to knowing where their packages are at any given time.
Employees will be paid extra and offered overtime pay as necessary to make the deliveries, Walmart spokesman Ravi Jariwala said.
Annibal Sodero, an associate professor at the University of Arkansas' Sam M. Walton College of Business, said searching for solutions to curb last-mile delivery costs aren't new for the company. The company says that so far the response from both customers and associates has been positive. That service is a result of the company's acquisition previous year of online retailer Jet.com.
Arkansas-based Walmart is one of the largest retail employers in the United States - with 4,700 stores and 1.3 million employees.
In January, the company started offering a free two-day delivery service for orders $35 and over - a direct shot at Amazon Prime's free two-day shipping program offered through a $99-per-year membership free.
For the past few years, a slew of tech titans and startups have been developing crowdsourced shipping services, with Amazon, Uber, Postmates, Deliv and others paying regular folks to deliver packages or food to customers' doors.
Its locations and labor - some 4,700 US stores with 1.3 million employees - are quite an asset that Lore has been working on further integrating with its digital operations.
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