Walmart is reportedly considering a new service that would add an unusual twist to the delivery process by crowdsourcing it to customers. Under the plan, which is still in the early planning stages, the company would pay in-store shoppers to rent space in their vehicles and have them deliver products it sells online.
According to Reuters, the move is aimed at competing with same-day delivery initiatives from Amazon and Google – which just launched a trial in the San Francisco Bay Area in partnership with Target, Walgreens, Staples, American Eagle, and Toys"R"Us, as well as local coffee shops.
Walmart currently relies on FedEx to deliver products from its stores to customers. They are also testing a service called Walmart To Go in five metro areas, under which the company uses its own vehicles to deliver products to customer homes on the same day they're ordered. By bringing in-store customers into the mix, Walmart would be able to cut transportation costs while providing the same expedite delivery service, but of course there are numerous legal, regulatory and privacy obstacles the company would have to clear first.
Walmart has been launching a number of initiatives that merge its online business with the power of its 4,000 stores. Starting this summer, they will start testing a new service for online buyers that involves installing lockers in about a dozen U.S. stores to hold goods until shoppers pick them up – not unlike Amazon started doing last year with brick-and-mortar partners. Walmart doesn't break down its e-commerce sales for the U.S., but the company recently said it expects global e-commerce sales to hit $9 billion this year.
If the proposed crowd-sourced delivery system eventually materializes it would still be a year or two away, according to Jeff McAllister, senior vice president of Walmart U.S. innovations.
Would you be okay with a random stranger showing up with your packages at home – or conversely, would you be willing to deliver stuff to strangers in exchange for a discount on your own bill?