It’s nice when a neighbor asks if they can pick up anything for you when they run to the local Walmart, but how would you feel if a stranger knocked on your door to deliver the goods? Walmart may be looking into crowd-sourcing, according to Reuters, a program that could potentially turn any shopper into a delivery person. Implementation of the program may be a couple years away, but Walmart is hoping a crowd-sourced delivery model could help them compete with the online retail giant Amazon.
In one possible execution of this new system, shoppers might receive a discount off their bill, enough to cover gas, in exchange for delivering an order to an Internet shopper’s door. But the details of the transaction and implementation, such as the potential for fraud and theft, aren’t yet determined.
“This is a brain-storming stage,” Jeff McAllister, senior vice president of Walmart U.S. innovation, told Reuters. “I’m sure it will be a test in some stores, but they may only keep it for metro markets and for higher-priced items.”
Having small tasks, such as home delivery, performed by the general public is not a new idea. Startups such as TaskRabbit have a dedicated force of workers that can be hired by anyone to perform random tasks such as picking up dry cleaning or cleaning your house. These workers, however, have all completed background checks and are vetted by TaskRabbit before receiving their first assignment. Walmart would need a similar process in order to build trust in a crowd-sourced delivery system.
But if the system proves successful, someday you may have a stranger knocking on your door and you’ll just need to say, “You can set those bags over there, on the kitchen table.”