Innovation vs. desperation
There’s innovation and then there’s desperation. Sometimes the latter leads to great ideas.
And sometimes it leads to Walmart deciding that its employees will drive deliveries to customer’s homes in order to compete with Amazon.
Here we go
President and CEO Marc Lore announced the new “last-mile” system will be tested in three stores in New Jersey and Arkansas. Cue SNL’s perpetual mockery of New Jersey and throw in CNBC’s crowning of Arkansas as the worst state to live in 2016.
This should all go swimmingly. No jokes generated here.
Walmart already offers two-day free shipping, discounts for pickup of online orders, and grocery pickup. Now, they’ve created a new technology to optimize this pilot program.
Last Mile system
There are currently 4700 locations around the country, putting Walmart within 10 miles of 90% of the U.S. population. Considering this, Lore invites us to “imagine all the routes our associates drive to and from work and the houses they pass along the way.”
Lore said the system is a “special win-win-win” meant to cut shipping costs and send packages more efficiently.
Eligible employees can sign up to make deliveries at the end of their shifts, taking packages to customers whose homes are already on their route home.
I give them points for attempting to be efficient, but this is just creepy. I wouldn’t want employees anywhere I shop knowing where I live.
Plus, this seems like a great opportunity for some serious liability issues.
Employees opting in can choose how many deliveries they want to make, as well as select the size and weight of packages they’re willing to deliver. At any point, preferences can be updated to reflect any changes. Okay, that’s fair. But what happens if no one wants to make the trip?
And If none of the available employees choose to deliver, does that mean a customer’s order is cancelled, or will a manager have to suck it up and be the hero?
Maybe customers will have a choice of regular delivery via truck versus random high school kid swinging by after their shift is done. Perhaps orders will default back to standard shipping if participating associates aren’t willing to drive.
details are aloof
So far, Walmart hasn’t clarified what the timeframe will be like between when customers place an order and when they can expect a delivery.
Despite these remaining questions, Walmart execs are hopeful that this new system will take off.