The next time you place a Walmart order online, it could be delivered to your front door by a Walmart associate — blue vest and all.
The retail giant is testing a new delivery program that relies on paying its workers to hand-deliver packages to customers on their commute home from working at the store. Marc Lore, the president and CEO of Walmart U.S. eCommerce, writes in a company blog:
Not only can this cut shipping costs and get packages to their final destinations faster and more efficiently, it creates a special win-win-win for customers, associates and the business.
Lore touts the new delivery program — which is being tested in three stores located in New Jersey and Arkansas — as a way for Walmart associates to earn extra money while driving home from work, although it’s not clear how the associates are compensated for their deliveries.
According to the retail giant, participation in the delivery program is optional for its workers, although Lore says the response from its workers and customers in the test locations has been “great.”
“Many orders are being delivered the next day, and associates love having the option to earn more cash while doing something that’s already part of their daily routine,” writes Lore.
But Stephanie Luce, a labor professor at the City University of New York, tells The Washington Post that Walmart’s new delivery system raises a number of questions.
“The practice seems ripe for abuse if the company does not compensate workers for the full cost of their journey, the expenses related to gas, car depreciation, and potential problems like accidents, tickets or parking expenses. Like other ‘gig economy’ type jobs, there is a potential to benefit workers — but in reality, most of the benefits accrue to the employer, not the employee.”
Walmart’s new delivery program could help it better compete with Amazon, which has launched same-day delivery service across much of the U.S.
Walmart began offering free two-day shipping on millions of items in January and also lowered its minimum purchase amount requirement for free shipping from $50 to $35.
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