Walmart will add four last-mile delivery providers to its grocery delivery fleet, the retailer announced. Point Pickup, Skipcart, AxleHire and Roadie will start delivering Walmart grocery orders to customers in four states with further expansions to be announced "in the coming weeks," according to a release. Each company operates in a different part of the country right now, but all specialize in the same order-from-anywhere delivery model akin to Postmates and DoorDash, which already work with Walmart.
Walmart’s dedicated personal shoppers will continue to pick and pack online orders, while the new delivery partners will transport them from the store to customers’ doors. Customers will continue to place orders through Walmart's site.
Walmart currently offers delivery from 800 stores in 100 metro areas and plans tp add another 800 stores this year — reaching 300 cities in total, according to the release. "With the help of these new delivery partners, we’re making grocery shopping even easier by bringing the everyday low prices of Walmart right to the front door of customers," said VP of Digital Operations Tom Ward.
In a rush to keep up with Amazon and the booming business of e-commerce, Walmart has turned to an assortment of last-mile providers to cover various regions of the country. These companies handle the most expensive piece of e-commerce fulfillment while Walmart maintains control over product selection and customer data.
Walmart already works with two of the biggest third-party delivery services. DoorDash reaches nearly 2,000 cities in the U.S. and Canada, signed on with the retailer last April, while Postmates services 385 cities as of last July, according to TechCrunch. Walmart also works with California-based Deliv.
Postmates covers cities like Indianapolis, New Orleans and Greater Boston, while DoorDash offers restaurant delivery to a large portion of U.S. consumers, per the company's site. But the company specializes in second- and third-tier markets and rural areas that major delivery providers don't handle.
That’s where startups like Skipcart come in. Though the company has only completed a pre-seed funding round worth $1.5 million, according to Crunchbase, it's headquartered in San Antonio and can handle deliveries for Walmart stores in that region. AxelHire, based in San Francisco, with $4.4 million in funding per Crunchbase, operates there and in Los Angeles, but was eyeing other major Western metros including Portland, Seattle, Las Vegas and Phoenix, TechCrunch reported in December 2017. Point Pickup services Long Island and Manhattan north into Connecticut, as well as Boston west to Framingham, Massachusetts.
Roadie, the largest provider of the bunch, boasts 90,000 drivers on its platform, landing $25 million in funding from the likes of a Google chairman, the UPS Strategic Enterprise Fund and the rapper Ludacris, according to CNBC. Roadie also has a specific Walmart section on its FAQ page for drivers.
None of these companies focus solely on grocery delivery, but as more consumers turn to online shopping, last-mile providers are looking for an on-ramp into the growing sales channel.
Walmart may have some kinks to work out as it standardizes service among a collection of last-mile companies. For instance, Roadie drivers must deliver Walmart orders within one hour of accepting the gig. If something runs amiss — say an item is missing or the customer isn’t home — the driver must return to the store, and the customer can only call Walmart’s customer service.