Crowdsourcing is cool. It’s an element of the sharing economy, which we are fans of (and have written about extensively). So we are naturally curious about the news that a Walmart exec wants to get on this phenomenon in order to help the company deliver online orders. “I see a path to where this is crowd-sourced,” the chief executive of Walmart.com told Reuters.
What he means is that instead of employing delivery drivers to bring packages to customers, they’ll get other customers to do it instead.
Basically, the idea is that customers tell Walmart where they live and would pick up online orders for people located on their route between the store and home. In exchange, the delivery people get a discount on their Walmart bill.
In theory, this might save some gas. But keep in mind that for Walmart, an “innovation” is basically “any strategy for spending less on human labor.” These routes were already being served by delivery companies which are pretty good at making really, really efficient routes. Oh, and which employ people trained to do these jobs, and pay them an hourly wage higher than “10 cents off that pack of fruit juice.”
Or as Reuters says,
Such a crowd-sourced delivery service may not be as reliable as FedEx or United Parcel Service, which have insured drivers, he added.
We have another buzzword to use for this plan: “cheaping out.”