Walmart is once again upping its delivery capabilities by launching a B2B delivery service for other retailers. The retail giant has debuted Walmart GoLocal, a delivery-as-a-service capability that enables businesses of all sizes to leverage Walmart’s slate of contract workers.
With the announcement, Walmart essentially pits itself against major third-party delivery platforms including Uber and DoorDash (Uber’s Postmates and DoorDash are both Walmart delivery partners) and Target’s Shipt delivery service, among others. As part of the service, Walmart will dispatch contract workers from its Spark delivery network, which launched in 2018, to merchants’ stores to pick up items and then bring them to shoppers.
Participating sellers can use the service for scheduled and unscheduled deliveries, including same-day delivery, and can expand their delivery capacity and coverage as their own customer demand requires.
Over the past year as the Covid-19 pandemic accelerated online shopping habits, Walmart has doubled Spark’s coverage to more than 500 cities nationwide, providing access to more than 20 million households. But the platform never delivered non-Walmart goods before the GoLocal launch.
This offering includes delivery on a range of products, including those with size and complex requirements, as well as the flexibility to meet varying timelines—all with what Walmart calls competitive, white-label pricing customized to each retailer’s individual needs. Participants aren’t required to sell on Walmart.com’s marketplace.
Walmart GoLocal has already established a number of contractual agreements with unnamed national and enterprise retail clients and is currently accepting select new merchant partners. The GoLocal API integrates with a business’s existing e-commerce platform so that when a shopper places an order online, the platform immediately contacts Walmart to dispatch a driver.
Once the driver is deployed, Walmart can capture delivery experience data. If widely adopted, GoLocal could also give Walmart access to local delivery data that could aid in improving its own delivery business or inform decisions about fulfillment center placement, both of which serve as significant competitive advantages given its sprawling physical presence.
“In an era where customers have come to expect speed and reliability, it’s more important than ever for businesses to work with a service provider that understands a merchant’s needs,” said John Furner, president and CEO, Walmart U.S. “Walmart has spent years building and scaling commerce capabilities that support our network of more than 4,700 stores and we look forward to helping other businesses have access to the same reliable, quality and low-cost services.”
Walmart has steadily worked to expand its delivery capabilities in recent years, first launching grocery delivery with the Spark offering in 2018 and scaling it in the years since. The company has partnered with third-parties such as Instacart, Doordash, Roadie and Postmates among others to bolster last-mile delivery, and has even turned to numerous autonomous delivery tests and drone pilots to push the limit on how it can get products to consumers. On a company-wide basis, its biggest success, thanks to the pandemic, has been its “store-to-door” Express Delivery service, which promises two-hour or less delivery on more than 160,000 items from more than 3,000 stores, reaching nearly 70 percent of the U.S. population.
Walmart plans to expand GoLocal over time to include more associate-powered delivery instead of just gig works. For example, Walmart is testing associate delivery in electric vans in Northwest Arkansas, for example. These vans would allow Walmart to power delivery for a wider variety of merchants, such as those with larger products that wouldn’t fit into Spark drivers’ personal cars and trucks.
“We’ve worked hard to develop a reliable last-mile delivery program for our customers,” said Tom Ward, senior vice president, last mile, Walmart U.S., in a statement. “Now, we’re pleased to be able to use these capabilities to serve another set of customers, local merchants. Be it delivering goods from a local bakery to auto supplies from a national retailer, we’ve designed Walmart GoLocal to be customizable for merchants of all sizes and categories so they can focus on doing what they do best, leaving delivery speed and efficiency to us.”
Walmart is looking to become more of a service provider for others in the retail industry, in a similar vein to how Amazon has partnered with smaller sellers to offer fulfillment services via FBA or cloud services via AWS. Walmart has been diversifying its revenue streams with initiatives like Walmart Connect and Walmart Fulfillment Services.
But most recently, the retail giant linked up with Adobe in an effort to share its fulfillment capabilities with more industry players. With the partnership, Adobe is integrating Walmart’s marketplace, online and in-store fulfillment and pickup technologies within the Adobe Commerce and Magento Open Source platforms and making the services available to customers. Adobe’s retail customers in the U.S. can integrate Walmart’s technologies in their own storefronts starting in early 2022.
This means that retailers and brands using either platform can soon implement Walmart’s cloud-based fulfillment technologies in their own physical stores to offer their own pickup and delivery experiences. Additionally, these merchants will have the opportunity to syndicate their products online on Walmart Marketplace.