Could the Wal-Mart shopper become the next-generation UPS guy or gal?
The giant retailer, looking to compete more aggressively with Amazon.com in online retail, is considering a plan in which in-store shoppers could pick up online orders and then deliver them to the nearby homes of those customers who purchased online.
The concept, first reported this week by Reuters, is certainly unique. And it follows news earlier this week that Wal-Mart also will start to test a locker service in which customers could order online, and then pick up packages at physical stores by entering a code in a locker. Amazon.com has been experimenting with that concept for nearly two years.
Reuters notes that the concept is yet another sign of the so-called “sharing economy” in which people rent out their homes (Airbnb) or cars (RelayRides). And they report that the effort would “face numerous legal, regulatory and privacy obstacles.”
The company has not yet decided whether to go forward with the concept, though those who signed up to be Wal-Mart delivery drivers could get a discount on shopping as payment.
“This is at the brain-storming stage, but it’s possible in a year or two,” Jeff McAllister, senior vice president of Walmart U.S. innovations, told Reuters
In Seattle, Amazon.com has experimented with its own delivery fleet for a number of years in the form of its Amazon Fresh delivery trucks. The company has been reluctant to expand the service to other cities.
We’ve also seen the arrival in recent months of other services which provide deliveries to homes — most recently with Postmates setting up shop. It partners with bike messengers and delivery drivers with the promise of delivering restaurant meals, groceries and other items to one’s home in under an hour.
In addition, Google just unveiled a pilot project in San Francisco for something called Google Shopping Express in which customers can get same-day delivery of items from Walgreens, Target, Office Depot and other retailers.