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Walmart tests last-mile employee delivery

BENTONVILLE, AR: June 01, 2017. Walmart has begun testing last-mile customer delivery by its employees on their way home. According to Walmart U.S. eCommerce president and CEO Marc Lore, it's a win-win for both:

"The best innovations are the ones that truly help customers save time and money. We're doing a lot of both.

"Online Grocery Pickup and two-day free shipping are saving people tons of time, and our new Pickup Discount is using our massive fleet of trucks to get online orders to stores where customers can pick up items for an additional discount and save even more money.

"Now, our latest test is taking this a step further and leveraging one of our greatest assets – our associates – to get online orders to customers' doors. Why is that a big deal? Not only can this cut shipping costs and get packages to their final destinations faster and more efficiently, it creates a special win-win-win for customers, associates and the business.

"It just makes sense: We already have trucks moving orders from fulfillment centers to stores for pickup. Those same trucks could be used to bring ship-to-home orders to a store close to their final destination, where a participating associate can sign up to deliver them to the customer's house. The best part is this gives our own associates a way to earn extra income on their existing drive home.

"Associates are fully in control of their experience. If they don't want to participate, they don't have to. If they choose to opt in, we've built technology that allows them to set preferences.

"Associates choose how many packages they can deliver, the size and weight limits of those packages and which days they're able to make deliveries after work – it's completely up to them, and they can update those preferences at any time. We also allocate packages based on minimizing the collective distance they need to travel off of their commute to make a delivery.

"Walmart has strength in numbers with 4,700 stores across the U.S. and more than a million associates. Our stores put us within 10 miles of 90 percent of the U.S. population. Now imagine all the routes our associates drive to and from work and the houses they pass along the way. It's easy to see why this test could be a game-changer.

"We're starting small with three test stores – two in New Jersey and one in northwest Arkansas – but the response from associates and customers has been great. Many orders are being delivered the next day, and associates love having the option to earn more cash while doing something that's already part of their daily routine. An unexpected benefit is they're finding quicker routes home thanks to the GPS built into our proprietary app.

"This last-mile innovation is one of a kind. Unlike crowdsourced delivery, where the driver has to travel (often out of the way) to pick up the package, then drive the full distance to deliver it, our associates are starting at the same place as the packages. Once they're done working at the store for the day, they pick up the packages from the backroom, load them into their vehicle, enter the delivery addresses into the GPS on their phone and head toward home.

"What I'm most proud of is how all areas of Walmart, from e-commerce to store operations to supply chain, came together to innovate rapidly for our customers – and in a way that puts our associates in control.

"I'm sure you can imagine how we can leverage these types of last-mile innovations in the future to deliver items offered in our stores to customers the same day. I'm excited to continue exploring more ways to bring our digital and physical strengths together to serve customers."

Walmart has 2.3 million employees around the world. The company reported revenue of US$485.9 billion for its fiscal year ending January 31, 2017, and a 63 percent increase in U.S. eCommerce sales for Q1 2017/2018.

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