Walmart’s Crowdsourced Deliveries: Interesting Concept or April Fools Joke?

Martijn Graat
Martijn Graat

Some questions just can’t be answered by a single tweet (see below)… So here goes:

Crowdsourced Delivery

First, some background: On March 28th Reuters published an exclusive news story about Walmart’s new plans to crowdsource deliveries. The basic concept? At checking out of a Walmart store the cashier asks you if you would be willing to deliver a shipment to an address that is located between Walmart and your home. In return, you would get a discount to cover both gas and your effort.

Interesting Concept, or April Fools Joke? It may be both. I see great possibilities and cost savings for both Walmart and participating customers, as it can lower the cost per shipment compared to conventional shipping channels.  In the Reuters article, several challenges are already mentioned: Insurance (FedEx and UPS are insured for shipments they deliver) and Trustworthiness (You trust somebody in a UPS uniform, but would you trust a stranger?). And those aren’t the only hurdles obviously.

Trust Could be an Issue

The biggest issue here is trust. Potential solution? Enrollment. If I would be willing to deliver a shipment for Walmart on my way home, I would need to register and be vetted for this by Walmart. Similarly, the customer ordering a shipment needs to actively participate in the program by selecting a “Delivery by Shopper” option, accepting the fact that a stranger will come to his door. Does this cover all the risks? Nope. Will people try and take advantage of this trust? Yep. So there is a lot of ground to cover before this can actually and successfully be implemented.

I know it works in the non-profit arena, and I will write about that soon (my time is up for now).

I’d like to believe that this concept can also work in the for-profit arena. It should: it saves money and greenhouse gas, to begin with. Yes, you need to be a positive thinker, and yes we need some creative solutions to a lot of problems not covered in this post. I’m not sure if Walmart will pull this off, but somebody should!

What do you think?


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