— Yomdel (@yomdel) March 29, 2013
Walmart is considering a radical plan to allow customers to deliver packages to online buyers in a shakeup of delivery services that could allow the supermarkets group it to better compete with Amazon.
Tapping in-store customers to deliver goods is part of a wider initiative more commonly known as crowdsourcing.
Many start-ups help people make money by renting out a spare room, a car, or even a cocktail dress, and Walmart would in effect be inviting people to rent out space in their vehicle and deliver packages to others.
Such an effort would face legal, regulatory and privacy obstacles, but Walmart executives said the scheme was at an early planning stage.
The supermarket chain is making a big push to ship online orders directly from stores, hoping to cut transportation costs and gain an edge over Amazon and other online retailers, which have no physical store locations. Walmart offers this service at 25 stores, but plans to expand to 50 this year and could eventually bolster the scheme to hundreds of stores.
Walmart uses delivery firms such as FedEx – or, in the case of a same-day delivery service called Walmart To Go that is being tested in five areas, its own delivery trucks.
“I see a path to where this is crowdsourced,” Joel Anderson, the US chief executive of Walmart.com, said.
The retailer, which also owns Asda in the UK, has millions of customers visiting its stores each week. Some of these shoppers could tell the retailer where they live and sign up to drop off packages for online customers who live on their route home, Anderson explained.