News Feature | June 10, 2016

Walmart Pilots Same-Day Delivery Program

Christine Kern

By Christine Kern, contributing writer

Walmart's Omni Channel Strategy

Uber, Lyft, and Deliv are partnering in the pilot program.

In an effort to provide new convenient ways to make shopping easier for its customers and members, Walmart has announced the pilot of same-day delivery initiatives in partnership with startups Uber, Lyft and Deliv, according to a company blog post published Friday. The pilot will begin in Denver and one additional market, and is in addition to a quiet Sam’s Club pilot begun in March with Deliv to delivery items to business members in Miami.

Under the pilot, customers are offered the new delivery option when placing a grocery order online. Walmart associates select and prepare the order, then request a driver from one of the partner services to pick up the items from Wal-Mart and deliver them directly to the customer’s location.

"[Customers] pay us our normal $7-10 delivery charge online, and make no payment to the driver," writes Walmart Global eCommerce EVP and Chief Operating Officer Michael Bender. "We’ll also let them know their order is being delivered by a driver from Uber or Lyft."

The latest initiatives reflect Walmart CEO Doug McMillon’s stated goal of reaching wealthier customers. In his blog post, Walmart's Bender says that Sam’s Club customers (who are often deeper-pocketed consumers, including businesspeople) who've used the Deliv service have “loved it."

Bender explained,  that Walmart will "start small and let our customers guide us, but testing new things like last-mile delivery allows us to better evaluate the various ways we can best serve our customers how, when and where they need us."

The new initiatives also raise questions, particularly in light of research that shows that customers prefer free over fast delivery. Douglas King, director of transportation and drop shipping for QVC, cited a 2015 Statista study that found that just 15 percent of U.S. consumers select two-day delivery options, while two-thirds choose a 3-5 day shipping option. The need for speed is not something that most consumers are looking for, he asserts. He advised, “Know who you are, and what your customers need from you. Balance out speed vs. relationships, and be aware of what’s meaningful to them.”

Of course, if Walmart is aiming for a higher-end clientele, who can afford both speed and cost, the new pilots just might be a winning formula for the retailer to provide what those customers are demanding.