Walmart launches last mile delivery service ahead of holiday surge

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — In a bid to minimize a pending holiday crunch, Walmart on Tuesday launched its own delivery service, GoLocal, designed to deliver goods from other local retailers to consumers nationwide.

According to Reuters, UPS Chief Executive Officer Carol Tomé told analysts in July to expect some 5 million more parcels per day seeking delivery than providers to handle that demand during peak holiday shipping season.

In turn, the Bentonville, Arkansas-based retail behemoth expects to begin shipping before the close of 2021 and said its delivery fleet will include such next-generation technologies as self-driving vehicles and drones, CNBC reported.

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“It’s about bringing the capabilities that we as Walmart have been laser-focused on building and connecting for our own customers to life for both local and national businesses,” Tom Ward, senior vice president of Last Mile for Walmart, told the network.

Specifically, GoLocal will dispatch workers from its Spark delivery network to merchants’ stores to pick up items and then deliver them to shoppers. Walmart has doubled Spark’s coverage to more than 500 cities during the past year, Reuters reported, citing Ward’s comments last week on an earnings call.

“We were looking at different potential revenue streams, ways to commercialize the capabilities and scale that Walmart has - and so we’ll think about what that means as this program unfolds,” Ward stated on that call.

The company also confirmed that GoLocal will operate as a white-label service, meaning associates, gig workers and other delivery companies will make the requested deliveries but not in Walmart-branded vehicles, CNBC reported.

Specifically, the service is being touted as “competitively priced shipping within two hours as well as a two-day delivery option,” the network reported.

Among the innovative delivery partners being tapped to launch GoLocal are Cruise, a self-driving electric vehicle start-up the retailer invested in last year, as well as Waymo and Nuro. Meanwhile, drone delivery partners include DroneUP, another company Walmart invested in last year, as well as ZipLine and FlyTrex.

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“What we’re excited about is that as we scale this, we’ve got all these different disruptive technologies that bring in the last mile work together at Walmart,” Ward told CNBC.

Amazon.com, the world’s top online retailer, delivers packages via a same-day service called Flex and contracts with van fleets that drop parcels on doorsteps, Reuters reported.