We look at Spark Delivery, a new last-mile delivery program from Walmart, that is being piloted in Nashville and New Orleans.
Grocery delivery programme launched this year
Following a launch earlier this year, Walmart is in the process of rolling-out grocery home delivery to 100 metro areas in the US, reaching more than 40% of US households. Currently the retailer is utilising a range of crowd-sourced delivery partners, including Uber and Deliv, in different regions. However, this new pilot suggests that it is aiming to build its own national service, which will bring potential cost benefits and the opportunity to learn more about last-mile delivery.
Partnering with Bringg and Delivery Drivers
Walmart has developed an in-house platform that enables drivers to select windows of work and provides navigation assistance. Elements of the service are powered by Bringg, a delivery logistics technology platform. Spark Delivery is also partnering with Delivery Drivers, Inc, a company which specialises in last-mile contractor management, to complete deliveries. Commenting on the new program, Greg Foran, president and CEO, Walmart US, stated,
"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."
Last mile in focus
This is the latest in a range of fulfillment innovations from Walmart. Last year, it started testing associate-powered delivery, with store colleagues undertaking deliveries in what was also essentially a crowd-sourced model. This was recently relaunched in Atlanta. The retailer is also continuing to roll-out grocery ecommerce pickup, with 2,100 stores expected to offer the service by the end of the year.
Key element of Walmart’s ecosystem development
Crowd-sourced delivery is a popular model in the US. For groceries, this has been driven by Instacart, which has partnered with most major grocery operators including Walmart (through its Sam’s Club operation), Kroger and Albertsons. Last year, Target acquired Shipt, a membership-based crowd-sourced delivery company. This enabled the retailer to significantly accelerate its progress on same-day delivery. Earlier this year, Amazon launched Amazon Flex, a delivery service which uses independent drivers.
With Both Instacart and Shipt operating with multiple retail partners, once scaled, Spark Delivery could be opened to other partners and form an important part of the broader ecosystem which Walmart is currently developing.
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