Walmart Considers Crowd-Sourced Delivery Program

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In order to fight rising costs, Walmart is considering a plan that would allow in-store customers a discount on their bill if they deliver packages to other customers that live on their way home.

The ‘crowd-sourcing’ idea is not unique to Walmart, as there are tons of internet start-ups that have grown from the crowd-sourced business model. They help people earn an extra bit of cash in exchange for renting out a room, car, or even expensive dresses. Walmart is attempting to capitalize on this idea in order to cut down on shipping costs.

The program, though, would involve overcoming quite a few levels of red tape as, with most all aspects of a business, there will be liability issues, as well as regulatory and privacy issues.

The plan is still in its early stages, but executives with Walmart believe it could be a successful program.

"This is at the brain-storming stage, but it's possible in a year or two," said Jeff McAllister, senior vice president of Walmart U.S. innovations.

Walmart currently uses licensed delivery businesses like FedEx to deliver its packages, but is slowly moving towards same-day delivery services with its own trucks, called Walmart To Go, that deliver directly from the store to a customer’s doorstep. In order to compete with Amazon, Walmart is also trying to deliver as many products as possible directly from stores to cut transportation costs.

In order to outsource its liability, Walmart could work with crowd-sourced shipment companies such as Zipments, which was founded in 2010 as a way for people with a car, phone, and PayPal account to earn some cash via carry out courier services.

Zipments does much more screening for its drivers and can now serve big cities such as New York and Chicago. According to Chief Executive and co-Founder Garrick Pohl, late deliveries, theft and fraud have not really been a problem.

"It's a great solution for large retailers like Wal-Mart," Pohl said. "We'd like to see them move quicker, but it's great that they are considering it."

Sources: Chicago Tribune, Forbes