Walmart halts the employee delivery test in Arkansas, New Jersey

by Kim Souza ( 923 views 

Walmart is constantly testing new processes and services internally and with customers. In recent months the retail giant quietly abandoned its Scan & Go tests as well the final-mile delivery by store employees being tested in Northwest Arkansas and New Jersey.

Walmart said it has instead started a new pilot with a store in Woodstock, Ga. Walmart was mum on its abandonment of the employee-delivery when asked by the media during shareholders events in June. Walmart execs said then they would make an announcement in the future about that test which was still being evaluated.

Walmart U.S. CEO Greg Foran did say in June the Scan and Go test was abandoned as customers seem to prefer self-checkout and grocery pickup. Scan & Go, which is a hit with Sam’s Club members, was tested in several Walmart stores across Northwest Arkansas and elsewhere.

Walmart first announced in June 2017 plans to use store employees to deliver online orders of general merchandise. The program was shuttered in January, according to Reuters, who first reported Walmart’s abandonment of the pilot. Walmart confirmed the pilot was pulled but offered no further comment.

Walmart said the new pilot testing in Georgia involves hiring drivers to make deliveries in their own vehicles and does not rely on store employees to do it at the end of their shifts. Walmart has hired four drivers who work out of the Woodstock, Ga., store. Walmart is paying drivers an estimated $12.50 per hour and reimbursing them 54.5 cents per mile, equal to the federal reimbursement. Drivers are required to pass background checks and use their own vehicles, paying for insurance and gasoline out of their earnings. The pilot in Georgia involves groceries only, and not general merchandise like the former tests in Arkansas and New Jersey.

Walmart is working with several third party final-mile delivery companies to help deliver groceries to 40% of U.S. households this year. Tom Ward, vice president of e-commerce operations, said in March Walmart plans to use 800 stores as fulfillment centers for online grocery orders which are picked by more than 18,000 personal shoppers and then delivered to customer homes. Walmart charges a flat fee of $9.95 for the grocery delivery which is being tested in nearly a dozen metros including Dallas, Phoenix, San Jose, Denver, Tampa/Orlando and most recently in St Louis. Walmart also requires a minimum grocery order of $30 to access delivery.

More recently Ward announced another pilot with Waymo that uses driverless cars to chauffeur customers to the store to pick up their grocery order and then return them home. This test is in Chandler, Ariz. with roughly 400 customers who signed up to test Waymo services in that city.

Walmart U.S. CEO Greg Foran said Walmart is using its size and scale to bring the best the retailer has to offer to customers across the U.S.

“We’re saving customers time by leveraging new technology, and connecting all the parts of our business into a single seamless shopping experience: great stores, easy pickup, fast delivery, and apps and websites that are simple to use,” Foran said in March.

Walmart execs have said they are encouraged with early results of the new driver pilot in Georgia, but that it’s just one of many tests underway for the purpose of making shopping easier for customers.