Let’s face it, today’s grocery market is a great battlefield! Consumers are spoilt for choice, with hoards of brands wooing them with better service and a more enriched range of products to pick from. Innovation is, therefore, the key to success. One such innovation in service and out-of-the-box thinking was introduced by Walmart, where their own employees would deliver orders to their customers after completing their shift. This was one grand step taken to take on arch-rival Amazon. But not all went as per plan, and Walmart learnt it the hard way.
Last year, Walmart had introduced a new concept in delivery that was unprecedented. Walmart’s own employees would bring online consumers their order after completing their usual 9-hour shift in an on-ground store. This revolutionary concept was supposed to cut shipping costs by using their own human resources and tackle the biggest problem the grocery industry is currently facing, the “last mile,” i.e. getting orders to the customer’s doorstep.
“Just imagine associates all over the world delivering orders to customers on their way home, this idea has the potential to change the game,” said Marc Lore, head of Walmart’s e-commerce operations.
But, the thrill of potential success didn’t last long. Unfortunately for Walmart, the idea didn’t sail. Reuters conducted over a dozen interviews and found documents stating that Walmart had stealthily closed down its pilot program in New Jersey and Arkansas, where it was initiated in January.
So, what went wrong?
Well, according to a few sources who did not wish to be named, in order to entice employees to boost pay, Walmart encouraged employees to join the program by offering free TVs and iPads as gifts. Initially, more than 50 employees in a 150 employee strong store volunteered, but they were expected to use their own cars and insurance to deliver groceries. Besides, they had to use extra time even beyond their stipulated work hours to deliver packages. They were later put off by the meager remuneration that Walmart was providing and decided to ultimately quit when Walmart stopped paying for mileage.
“The money was never worth it… and they stopped paying mileage in the end,” balked an employee who did not wish to be named.
Walmart plans to make amends with a new program implemented in Woodstock, Georgia called ‘Associate Delivery 2.0’ with four employees hired specifically for delivery. How Walmart fares from this program is the bigger question but since it is in the initial stages we will let time speak for it.
Despite having billions of dollars invested in building up an e-commerce platform, Walmart has to crawl before learning to walk and impatience has already cost them a lot of time. Reuters got its eyes on some internal documents that gave their couriers specific orders which included “make sure you have your ‘thank you’ cards ready” to leave inside their deliveries.
It certainly seems like they’ve got it all figured out this time. Will this modest service program create wonders in the revenue charts? Only time will tell.