Walmart Inc. (NYSE: WMT) has set a new experiment to deliver groceries to people’s homes. The initiative joins similar ones by Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) and Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR). The success of the attempts will rely as much on how many people want home delivery of groceries as on the quality of the delivery systems and the size of each company’s retail location footprint.
The world’s largest retailer announced:
As Walmart expands its Grocery Delivery service, giving its customers the option to shop when and how they want, the company today announced a new last-mile delivery pilot – Spark Delivery – exploring an additional way to get groceries from their stores to customers’ front doors.
Spark Delivery is a crowd-sourced delivery platform that allows Walmart to learn even more about the full last-mile delivery process. The pilot uses an in-house platform that provides drivers with the ability to sign up for windows of time that work best for their schedule as well as Grocery Delivery order details, navigation assistance and more. Components of Spark are powered by Bringg, a leading delivery logistics technology platform. Walmart’s team of personal shoppers are an important component of the overall process as they meticulously shop for customers’ orders. Spark Delivery engages the services of independent drivers who partner with Delivery Drivers, Inc, a nationwide firm who specializes in last-mile contractor management, to complete deliveries.
Walmart effectively has spread the financial risk of the effort to much smaller companies that want to be part of the chain that stretches from stores to people’s homes.
Walmart cannot know, as its competition does not, how many people have an interest in home delivery. If the figure is small, all the experiments may fail. However, none of the three companies can afford for a rival to take a big lead and effectively control the grocery to the home system. That control, if it happens, still will rely on where each company has retail locations or major distribution centers. If that is a measure, Walmart and Kroger have an advantage because each has thousands of stores.
Walmart’s grocery delivery plans may be the winner within the industry for the simple fact of the size of its chain and its proximity to a large part of the American population.