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?
Retailing 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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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?
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