Wal-Mart, after having launched ShippingPass in selected areas, the Wal-Mart aquivalent to 2005 era Amazon Prime, and having started building up a new e-commerce focused logistics infrastructure, is now partnering up with Uber and Lyft to deliver groceries in a fast fashion.
Walmart is partnering with Uber and Lyft to test a grocery delivery service, in a bid to directly compete with similar offerings from Amazon. The pilot program will begin within the next two weeks in Denver and one other market, Michael Bender, Walmart’s head of e-commerce, said in a blog post this week. A Walmart spokesman tells The Wall Street Journal that the service will launch in Denver and Phoenix. Company CEO Doug McMillon will discuss the program at Walmart’s annual shareholder meeting on Friday.
It is an experiment. Wal-Mart wants to gather market feedback. But I doubt they are going to get much feedback at all other than rejection, given how this is set up:
Under the pilot program with Uber and Lyft, customers would place an order online and Walmart employees would prepare the items. The employees would then call an Uber and Lyft driver to deliver the order, with the customer paying a $7 to $10 delivery charge to Walmart.
Partnering with Uber and Lyft et al makes sense. In theory, it gives those partners a significant enough scope in those endeavours to learn and make it all worthwhile, while at the same time releasing Wal-Mart of building up yet another dedicated infrastructure.
But if Wal-Mart is being serious here, why not connect this to ShippingPass in some fashion or another – heck, call this new service “ShippingPass Fresh” for giggles, and bring down the delivery charge.
This Wal-Mart cooperation also suggests that Uber and Lyft may have an advantage against more focussed p2p delivery companies like Postmates as they can more easily provide a country wide fleet, should a partner like Wal-Mart decide to roll out such a service nationally.
The UK is one example where one can see that online grocery shopping is going to become a real trend very soon. According to this study by IGD 26% of Britons have shopped for groceries online at least once in the month prior to being asked about this. The study was published in February of 2015.
Meanwhile, Amazon is expanding its Uber-like delivery service Amazon Flex. Flex is most likely going to be an important puzzle piece in Amazon’s wider logistics expansion.
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