Walmart looking at crowdsourcing to offer same-day shipping

4/4/2013

Walmart Stores Inc. is putting a new spin on speedy delivery services by looking into using customers to deliver packages to online buyers.

Walmart’s plan isn’t entirely new. It uses what’s known as “crowdsourcing,” where the creativity, intelligence, and expertise of a large number of people are outsourced to complete certain tasks that would typically be done by an employee or consultant.

The plan would allow the world’s largest retailer to better compete with Amazon.com.

Essentially, Walmart would ship online orders directly from stores and invite people to "rent out" space in their vehicle, and deliver packages to others.

Walmart’s millions of shoppers could be tapped to drop off packages for online customers living nearby.

Customers would be offered a discount on their shopping bill, which would cover the cost of gas in return for delivery of packages.

At present, Walmart uses companies like FedEx Corp for delivery from stores or its Walmart To Go service that offers same-day delivery currently being tested with its own delivery trucks.

“I see a path to where this is crowdsourced,” said Joel Anderson, chief executive of Walmart.com in the United States, in the Reuters report.

Reuters points out the crowdsourcing scheme faces an uphill battle, with numerous legal, regulatory, and privacy issues to tackle.

This is at the brain-storming stage, but it’s possible in a year or two,” said Jeff McAllister, senior vice president of Walmart U.S. innovations to Reuters.

Walmart executives said the scheme was at an early planning stage, but currently the retailer offers this service at 25 stores, with plans to expand to 50 this year.

Experts said the possibility of this plan becoming reality across the retailer’s more than 4,000 U.S. stores is unlikely, and only feasible for metro markets and high-priced items.

X
This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds