Walmart is flexing its massive workforce in its quest to overtake Amazon.
The big box retailer is now paying store employees to drop off packages ordered online on their way home from work if a recipient happens to be in their area.
The program is in the testing phase for now, but Walmart’s head of ecommerce, Marc Lore, said in the announcement that it could be a “game-changer.”
The experiment is Walmart’s latest bid to leverage the advantages it does have over Amazon — namely, its nearly 5,000 American stores and more than 1 million employees — to boost its growing online shopping business.
“Our stores put us within 10 miles of 90% of the U.S. population,” Lore wrote in a blog post published Thursday. “Now imagine all the routes our associates drive to and from work and the houses they pass along the way.”
The test is currently limited to two stores in New Jersey and one in Arkansas. Packages are shipped from Walmart’s various fulfillment centers to the locations, where workers can volunteer to hand-deliver them by way of an employee app.
Lore said hundreds of packages have already been shipped through the program and, in many cases, in half the time guaranteed by Walmart’s two-day shipping window.
Lore took over Walmart’s online operations last year after the retailer bought Jet.com, the company he founded to take on Amazon.
Jet’s central pitch for doing so was an algorithm that the company claimed could plot more efficient shipping and supply chain routes.
At Walmart, Lore has tapped Walmart’s massive brick-and-mortar infrastructure to further speed up shipping times.
The company recently began offering a discount on any online shipment if customers picked it up at a store. It’s also announced a two-day shipping guarantee for any order over $35 — an answer to a similar deal included in Amazon Prime membership.
Lore said the focus on efficiently calculating shipping routes would set Walmart’s employee delivery pilot apart from other crowd-sourced efforts.
Walmart’s newfound fixation on efficient shipping seems to be working. The store’s e-commerce arm has grown significantly in the past two quarters.