Wal-Mart Hints at Crowdsourcing Package Delivery

Wal-Mart is considering a plan to have store customers deliver packages to online buyers, a radical twist on Crowdsourcing.

Wal-Mart currently uses traditional delivery services such as FedEx for most deliveries. But in 5 metro areas, the shopping giant is using a same-day delivery service called “Wal-Mart to Go” which uses its own delivery trucks. In a recent interview with Reuters, Joel Anderson, chief executive of Walmart.com, said he could see this as a path to delivery becoming crowd-sourced.

Wal-Mart’s millions of customers visiting its stores each week are the key element to this crowdsourcing idea. Some of these shoppers could tell the retailer where they live and sign up to drop off packages for online customers who live on their route back home, Anderson explained. In exchange, Wal-Mart would offer a discount on the customers’ shopping bill, which in turn would cover the cost of gas and time spent delivering the packages.

Companies such as TaskRabbit and Fiverr already provide a service similar to this, but this would be the first time a retail giant entered the crowdsourced market.

Wal-Mart executives say nothing is concrete regarding this program.

“This is at the brain-storming stage, but it’s possible in a year or two,” said Jeff McAllister, senior vice president of Wal-Mart U.S. innovations. While crowdsourcing works on a smaller level, Wal-Mart would face numerous legal, regulatory and privacy obstacles in implementing this plan.

A bigger problem as pointed out by Matt Nemer, a retail analyst at Wells Fargo Securities, is the question of who would be delivering the package to your home.

“You are comfortable with a FedEx or UPS truck in your driveway, but what about a stranger knocking on your door?” Nemer said.