Some Walmart workers now deliver packages on their way home

Some Walmart workers now deliver packages on their way home

Some Walmart workers now deliver packages on their way home

In a novel solution to the still-unsolved mystery of the last mile, Wal-Mart Stores on Thursday revealed it was testing using store employees to drop off online orders at customers' homes on their way home from work.

The test is now available in two New Jersey stores, and one in northwest Arkansas.

About 90 percent of the US population lives within 10 miles of a Walmart, and the company is using those locations as shipping hubs to compete with Amazon on the last mile of delivery - the most expensive part of getting goods to customers.

In a blog post Thursday, Walmart e-commerce head Marc Lore called the program a "game-changer", saying it has resulted in next-day deliveries for many customer orders.

Walmart trucks already move orders to stores from fulfillment centers, and can transport ship-to-home orders to a store close to the final destination, Love said.

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Employees who want to participate will be able to use an app to specify how many packages they are willing to deliver, Jariwala said, as well as the weight and size limits on the packages. The retailer assigns deliveries to associates in a way that minimizes the distance they collectively need to travel.

Of course, one could argue that Walmart's penchant for not paying workers a livable wage nearly necessitates the need for its staff to have a second or side job - or, as many today say, a "side hustle".

Here's how it works: At the end of a regular shift, an associate picks up packages from the store's backroom, loads them into his or her vehicle, gets directions through their phone and heads back toward home, making stops along the way.

For the company, the concept can cut fulfillment time and last-mile shipping costs, while engendering goodwill with customers and workers. Lore cited online grocery pickup, two-day free shipping and store pickup discounts as other measures created to upgrade customers' experience in shopping on Walmart.com.

The service is being tested at two stores in New Jersey and one in Arkansas.

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The store pickup option saves Wal-Mart delivery costs, which it passes on to shoppers in the form of discounts, but the new employees-as-delivery-service test does not offer shoppers a discount.

Walmart says its new delivery venture is a win-win, providing faster delivery as well as cutting costs.

Wal-Mart declined to specify how much employees will be compensated for delivering packages, but a spokesman said the company is complying with minimum wage and overtime laws.

Today at Walmart's 47 Annual Shareholders' Meeting, President and CEO Doug McMillon said Walmart has "started to invent the future of shopping again", as the company leverages technology to empower associates and improve the customer experience.

Wal-Mart previously announced plans to offer free two-day shipping on orders of at least $35 earlier this year.

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Wal-Mart Stores, Inc is engaged in the operation of retail, wholesale and other units in various formats around the world. Walmart's assets include 4,700 stores across the USA, 6,100 trucks, and a clan of 1.5 million U.S employees. That is no small matter at a time Amazon is working on its own ways to speed up delivery, including opening up physical stores and testing the use of drones, moves likely to soon make next day delivery as basic a service as two-day delivery is now.

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