Walmart opens local Delivery Service to Other Retailers

Gig workers driving Walmart grocery orders will also handle last-mile deliveries for other merchants.

By guest author Paul Ziobro from the Wall Street Journal

Walmart Inc. WMT drivers will soon be making deliveries for other merchants.

The big-box retailer is opening up its in-house delivery platform, Spark Driver, to other businesses so that the independent contractors who are out delivering Walmart groceries and other merchandise can make additional deliveries along the way.

The service, called Walmart GoLocal, offers another way for the retailer to beef up its delivery platform and add more paying pickup and drop-offs while drivers are out. It joins a crowded field of players looking to handle last-mile deliveries, including a similar service called Shipt, which is owned by rival Target Corp. TGT -0.37%

Last-mile delivery, or the leg of an item’s journey to the ultimate destination, is typically dominated by large networks like FedEx Corp., United Parcel Service Inc. UPS and the U.S. Postal Service. Their capabilities in same-day delivery are limited, however, as their models are built around accepting packages into their network and then sending them out.

The acceleration of e-commerce delivery has pushed more retailers to look at even speedier delivery options. Inc., AMZN  for instance, offers same-day delivery on around 3 million items in select areas. Target’s Shipt does same-day deliveries from its stores and others. Other companies like DoorDash Inc., DASH  Instacart Inc. and Uber Technologies Inc. UBER  use gig workers to fulfil orders for all sorts of merchants.

Walmart has been delivering products from its stores for several years, using a combination of services like DoorDash and its own service to recruit drivers to shop in its stores and deliver products.

But drivers using the Spark platform were limited to Walmart orders, which, when delivering out in rural areas where Walmart dominates, meant covering a larger region where businesses could use quick delivery options.

With Walmart’s new offering, the delivery person wouldn’t arrive in a Walmart vehicle or Walmart attire, making it an option for other big chains. Executives described new potential to deliver cupcakes from a local bakery or auto parts from a national retailer to a car repair shop.

UPS in June said that it was exploring a same-day delivery service. FedEx offers such an option in limited markets and is also testing a robot to deliver medicine, pizzas and other items.