For retailers and shipping companies, the last link in the supply chain – ‘the last mile’ – is the hardest.
This journey – from final pick up to ultimate destination – is traditionally a pain point in terms of cost and efficiency.
Walmart is trying to bring some relief to their ‘last mile’ by collaborating with disruptors like Uber and Lyft.
Details of the pilot program were announced at the company’s annual shareholder meeting by CEO Doug McMillon, held in Arkansas.
Three different companies are involved – Deliv will join the aforementioned innovative brands – and all will be in play in three separate locations to complete Walmart’s plan.
Uber will perform grocery delivery in Phoenix while Lyft will do the same in Denver.
Deliv has been at work in Miami since March, shipping general merchandise and groceries to business members of Walmart’s Sam’s Club brand.
Walmart’s EVP and COO of Global eCommerce Michael Bender, offered a step by step of what the new service means to customers on the company blog.
Promising a ‘seamless experience’ Bender says that users – only in the pilot precincts – can place an order online selecting a delivery window and location.
This is filled by members of Walmart’s team of personal shoppers – workers trained specially to offer the same attention to intimate detail in terms of preferences and selection that say a personal assistant would.
Then customers have the option of having their order completed by Lyft or Uber to the location of their choice.
The delivery charge is US$7 – US$10.
As ecommerce gains traction in the USA amongst consumers, observers in the retail space have seen this as Walmart’s way to challenge similar services like Amazon Fresh, which has been at work in the USA for seven years and was rolled-out in the UK earlier this year.
This was a major theme in McMillon’s keynote last week. He told shareholders that the company would manoeuvre technology to the centre of its strategy.
He said that Walmart moving forward would spend more money on ecommerce and sales-floor advancement.
In Australia, traditional bricks-and-mortar retailers are beginning to explore the possibilities of disruptive models in the face of a population where one in five shoppers buy online once a week.
In February, Myer told their customers they could shop online using eBay, joining 30 or more other brands.
Meanwhile, Woolworths announced a new parcel drop off service in partnership with CouriersPlease.