PhotoWith a goal of delivering to more than 100 U.S. cities by the end of the year, Walmart is in the process of testing out a new grocery delivery service that would have independent drivers delivering groceries.

Similar to Amazon Flex, Walmart is in the testing phases of Spark Delivery -- a service that would have delivery drivers use their own cars to make fast deliveries.

According to a company news release, Spark Delivery is a crowdsourced delivery platform that allows drivers to sign-up for delivery hours that best fit their schedule, in addition to providing order details, navigation assistance, and more.

“We’re saving customers time by leveraging new technology, and connecting all the parts of our business into a single seamless shopping experience: great stores, easy pickup, fast delivery, and apps and websites that are simple to use,” said Walmart President and CEO Greg Foran.

“We’re serving our customers in ways that no one else can. Using our size and scale, we’re bringing the best of Walmart to customers across the country. Spark Delivery is one way we’re exploring how to get quality groceries from our door to our customers’ doors.”

Last-mile delivery

With Spark Delivery, Walmart is hoping to achieve success in the “last mile” of delivering products to online customers -- one of the biggest challenges for online retailers, and the most expensive. That stage of the delivery -- physically getting the package to the door -- is usually handled by FedEx or UPS, and Walmart is looking to change that.

Despite being the largest grocery seller in the United States and having 4,700 stores within 10 miles of 90 percent of the population, Walmart has been working on perfecting its delivery services.

Walmart has tested several different delivery service options in the past, all to mixed reviews. The company partnered with Uber and Lyft for some time to test delivery options, and later it utilized its own employees to make deliveries after they had completed nine-hour shifts.

Back in March, Walmart set the goal of delivering groceries to 100 U.S. cities by the end of 2018. The retailer has since teamed up with companies like Postmates and Doordash to help meet the goal.

Walmart’s grocery delivery service is currently available in nearly 50 markets, including Atlanta, Seattle, Miami, Denver, and Chicago.

Drivers

Walmart said its partner Delivery Drivers will handle the majority of the logistics with drivers, including payment and accounting, screening, recruiting, and background checks, among other things.

Drivers will make money on each delivery they complete, in addition to any tips they receive from customers. Drivers’ pay can exceed $20 per hour depending on how many deliveries they make.

Currently, Spark Delivery is being tested in Nashville and New Orleans, with plans to reach other metro area markets later this year.


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