Wal-Mart, one of the richest companies in the world, wants its own customers to deliver packages to online buyers in exchange for basically nothing so it can compete with Amazon.com.
Tapping customers to deliver goods would put the world's largest retailer squarely in middle of a new phenomenon sometimes known as "crowd-sourcing," or the "sharing economy."
A plethora of start-ups now help people make money by renting out a spare room, a car, or even a cocktail dress, and Wal-Mart would in effect be inviting people to rent out space in their vehicle and their willingness to deliver packages to others.
Next, little fledgling start-up Wal-Mart will probably launch a Kickstarter to raise money for its new album.
This is how it would work: Some of the millions of customers that visit Wall-Mart each week would tell stores where they live and sign up to drop off packages for online customers who live by their route back home. Easy peasy! A retail analyst said the plan is unlikely to be implemented across the company's network of more than 4,000 U.S. stores, but Jeff McAllister, senior vice president of Walmart U.S. innovations, said "it's possible in a year or two."
Lawyers foresee issues with this crowd-sourced delivery program; would you want a random stranger delivering your pricey flatscreen TV? But Reuters barely touches upon what should be a way larger issue: compensation.
What do these would-be delivery people get in return for their labor? "Wal-Mart would offer a discount on the customers' shopping bill, effectively covering the cost of their gas in return for the delivery of packages," according to a plan outlined by Joel Anderson, chief executive of Walmart.com in the United States. That's a hell of a lot cheaper than paying workers a livable wage (plus benefits) for the same job. Genius idea, Wal-Mart!