Now Wal-Mart wants you to make its deliveries

The retailer mulls a plan to ask store customers to drop off online orders. Is it a way to compete with Amazon, or cut costs?

By Aimee Picchi Mar 28, 2013 1:46PM

Wal-Mart store in Secaucus, New Jersey / Jin Lee/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesRetailing giant Wal-Mart (WMT) is eyeing the "sharing economy," but that might mean unloading some of its costs onto customers. 


That's because it's considering a plan that would ask in-store customers to deliver packages for online buyers as it seeks to remain competitive with Internet retailer Amazon.com (AMZN), according to a report from Reuters


The plan raises questions about Wal-Mart's motives, such as whether the company -- known for its tight controls on spending -- is seeking simply to defray delivery costs by unloading the burden on its customers. 


Wal-Mart said it would offer a discount for in-store customers if they agreed to drop off packages for online buyers while on their way home, according to the report. Joel Anderson, the chief executive of Walmart.com in the U.S., said the discount would cover the cost of gas. 


But drivers, private or commercial, also incur other costs, such as insurance, maintenance, registrations and licenses. 


And then there's potential resistance from online buyers. After all, it's one thing to get a delivery from a uniformed UPS (UPS) employee, but quite another when a stranger knocks at your door.


"This is at the brain-storming stage, but it's possible in a year or two," Jeff McAllister, Wal-Mart's U.S. innovations executive, told Reuters. 


Separately, Wal-Mart is testing an option for online buyers, allowing them to store items ordered via its website at in-store lockers, according to the Associated Press. The idea is to allow customers to pick up items without waiting in line or dealing with an employee.


The "crowdsourcing" delivery plan comes as Wal-Mart is trying to ship orders directly from its retail locations, which lowers transportation costs, Reuters notes. Amazon and other Internet retailers have an advantage over competitors such as Wal-Mart and Target (TGT) because the online companies don't incur the costs of running physical stores. 


But with Wal-Mart coming under fire from shoppers for already cutting back on customer service and staffing, it remains to be seen whether the new plan would win back the unhappy customers. As MSN moneyNOW reported on Wednesday, many Wal-Mart shoppers are fleeing after encountering long checkout lines and empty store shelves. 


Currently, Wal-Mart uses shippers such as FedEx (FDX), and it's also testing a same-day delivery service in several cities that use the company's own trucks. 


Asking customers to deliver packages also raises privacy and legal problems, Reuters notes. For starters, some packages might become victims of theft and never get delivered. 


Then there's the case of Zipments, which started out by allowing anyone over 18 years old and with a vehicle, a phone capable of texting and a PayPal account to bid on delivering packages. But now, the company told Reuters, it screens its drivers more before accepting them. 


While fraud and stealing weren't a problem, the issue of insurance and licenses were hurdles, Zipments said. 


Wal-Mart might end up discovering there's such a thing as oversharing. 


Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi.


More on moneyNOW

356Comments
Mar 28, 2013 3:27PM
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OH MY GOD! You have absolutely lost your mind if you even think of sending some random un-bonded foo' to my door with the stuff that I spent my hard working money on!  Or even asking me to do it! I DONT WORK FOR YOU! You must be on crack! Sending some serial killer or freakin' weirdo to my door scratching his booty smelling like beer and Cheetos! How will you know who is coming to my door on his way home? Oh please! I wont buy one more thing from your cheap A$$$es!  Stop selling online then. Most consumers pay for shipping anyway so what you paying for? Unbelievable. Just the dumbest thing ever!  What kind of Board of Directors do you have?  Ghetto arze Walmart! Booo Walmart! Boo! I am going to Target!

Mar 28, 2013 2:01PM
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that is the dumbest thing I've ever heard!
Mar 28, 2013 3:20PM
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So you order a TV or video game and some Joe Blow delivers  you an empty box?   Then what do you do?   LOL
Mar 28, 2013 2:35PM
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Self checkout, self delivery, the next logical step would be to have customers stock shelves for a discount if the item's they want is still in the box. Then, if the box is empty, another discount to make a warehouse run! Soon, pffft, no employee overhead, and all the profit goes to the CEO!

And this: Go to WMT, decide what you want while there, use your phone to place an online order, then volunteer to drop the goods off on your way home! Discount, and gas money to go shopping!

Mar 28, 2013 4:08PM
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I truly hope this is a joke! Walmart are you trying to become the GREEDIEST of businesses in the world? You pay low wages for all your part time workers (forcing people to work and still receive welfare and medical assistance). On top of that, It is not a fun experience when the line is seven or eight carts in front of me and only one person working a cash register. It is not that great to shop at Walmart anymore! 
Mar 28, 2013 3:08PM
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Perhaps in a day where the Sheriff and Opie Taylor would visit Sam Drucker's General Store in a small town this idea would work.  But in today's world, I have my doubts.
Mar 28, 2013 4:07PM
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That's stupid!  How do they know if the person delivering will not do something else to your package or decide to break into your home.

 

Mar 28, 2013 4:08PM
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Are you kidding me...always something for nothing..the greed has gone too far.  Walmart your days are numbered and I am sure Target or another retailer are waiting in the wings to take over.  Besides, it is time for a new Retailer to emerge.! 
Mar 28, 2013 4:24PM
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walmart is just not understanding it's customers anymore.   People don't want to shop there because we don't want to walk a half mile across the parking lot,  then wander around a  120,000  square foot store,  and then stand in line at the cash register for 20 minutes.  My time is important and i rather spend it doing something other than in a walmart.  
Mar 28, 2013 4:12PM
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This will never be possible.  What a bunch of idiots.  Without doubt, this will close Walmart down!!!!
Mar 28, 2013 4:12PM
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Ted Bundy and Jeffery Dalmer wannabes are probably running around with boners at the thought of how easy this is going to make things for them. What if I were to shop at night? Want me beating on your door at 3 in the morning delivering a package to you? "Welcome to Walmart, Get your sh!t and get out."
Mar 28, 2013 3:02PM
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Man what wal-mart wouldn't do or try to cut there employee pay or there Jobs so their higher up can make more money. Remember Wal-Mart no employee's no money no CEO that gets any money.
Mar 28, 2013 4:43PM
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It is all about corporate greed.  It has always been about corporate greed.
Mar 28, 2013 4:02PM
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WalMart can say what it wants, BUT if you are doing company business and have a wreck they ARE responsible for you and your vehicle
Mar 28, 2013 3:18PM
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If we had a Target in Thomasville, Georgia, I would never shop at Walmart for groceries again.
Mar 28, 2013 4:29PM
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Dear WalMart - get a clue.  You need to be willing to INVEST a little money BACK into your infrastructure AND HUMAN capital - ie employees - your people!.    If you want delivery service - good lord - so many people out of work.   HIRE them to do this delivery.   I am sure there are many that would take the job gladly, even if at minimum wage.   HIRE enough people to work the registers, keep the stores stocked, clean & well managed.   Pay them and give them benefits deserving of the hard work they do.  You don't do that and it shows to even the casual observer.  

I can tell you one thing -  EVERY SINGLE WALMART EMPLOYEE from CEO down needs to be completely retrained on customer service - what it really is and how to provide it.    I know you are concerned about your bottom line.  But unless you are willing to invest a little of your billions back into these things, you will end up failing in the long run.   Take a look at Sears and see your future if you continue on your downward path.    I won't ever deliver for you (and I am a frequent shopper/customer).   Nope.  Not unless you HIRE me as a regular employee.  Then we'll talk. 

 

Mar 28, 2013 4:12PM
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I for one do not want to pay Walmart to do their deliveries.

 

This whole thing is not very safe, Walmart finds an instore customer to delivery food on their way home, they do not know who these people are, are they going to take responsibility for a robbery, someone getting killed?  Anything could happen.

 

What is Walmarts  liability???

 

I think there will be alot of problems with this service. Why don't they just hire an employee w/ a Walmart car to do these deliveries, and have a delivery charge added to their orders. This makes sense.

Mar 28, 2013 4:24PM
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Yeah, I want the people who shop at Wal Mart showing up at my door to give me something I bought! Probably won't end up at my door in the package. Idiotic.
Mar 28, 2013 2:04PM
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Empty store shelves? Is this a result of not having manufactured products to stock, or not having the cash and credit to get products on the shelves? I understand not having staff, not having customer service, and having long checkout lines. When you sell on price, as Wal-Mart does, you don't provide beyond a barebones shopping environment.

 

But! Shelves not stocked with product to sell on price? Can it be true--is Wal-Mart approaching bankruptcy?

Mar 28, 2013 3:35PM
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If they pay me a a fair UNION wage I might consider it.
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