Open Innovation with Wal-Mart to Use Customers as Couriers

800px-Walmart_exteriorAccording to a report by Reuters, the retail giant Wal-Mart is considering crowdsourcing it customer delivery service.  It would mean a customer delivering goods to your door rather than the retailer.

Although peer-to-peer delivery isn’t a new concept – think Postmates and Stuff2send for example – it’s interesting that this crowdsourcing approach is being talked about by such a large commercial enterprise.

Wal-Mart is currently looking at ways to deliver orders even faster whilst cutting transportation costs. Currently it makes use of carriers such as FedEx.  It also wants an edge over Amazon and other online retailers that don’t have physical stores.

How it Could Work

A crowdsourced approach could see it hiring space in people’s vehicles who would then deliver the orders.  Presumably they would be dropping them off to neighbors in their locale. In return Wal-Mart could pay their expenses or give them discounts off future purchases.

Interviewed by Reuters, Jeff McAllister, senior vice president of Wal-Mart U.S. innovations said: “This is at the brain-storming stage, but it’s possible in a year or two.”

Issues

There are still a lot issues to be discussed and ironed out such as security and late deliveries.

What happens if an order doesn’t get to a customer? Will customers welcome a stranger knocking at their door as opposed to a courier service employee?

But it’s possible that it could get to the testing stage at least.

“I’m sure it will be a test in some stores,” added McAllister. “But they may only keep it for metro markets and for higher-priced items.”

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One Comment

Gloria Butz

This is a great idea especially in rural communities. You would need a system to ensure that goods are being delivered. I can see the elderly or home bound using a service like this if there little or no extra costs involved like fuel surcharges, handling fees, etc.

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