Will self-driving, electric vehicles power Walmart’s contactless delivery future?
Walmart’s customers in Scottsdale, AZ, are among those using the retailer’s Delivery Unlimited and other home delivery services in thousands of stores across the U.S. When those very same customers place their home delivery orders early next year, they may find their groceries arriving in a self-driving electric car.
The pilot program is being run in partnership with Cruise, the all-electric vehicle subsidiary of General Motors. In a company blog, Tom Ward, Walmart SVP of customer product, writes that use of the Cruise vehicles will help put the retailer on the road to achieving zero emissions by 2040, a goal the company announced in September to apply across its global business. Walmart also pledged to help “protect, manage or restore at 50 million acres of land and one million square miles of ocean by 2030 to help combat the cascading loss of nature threatening the planet.”
“Technology that has the potential to not only save customers time and money but also is helpful to the planet is technology we want to learn more about,” wrote Mr. Ward.
“You’ve seen us test drive with self-driving cars in the past, and we’re continuing to learn a lot about how they can shape the future of retail. We’re excited to add Cruise to our lineup of autonomous vehicle pilots as we continue to chart a whole new roadmap for retail,” he added.
Walmart is experimenting with a number of alternative delivery models in addition to driverless cars. The company, also in September, announced three separate flying drone pilots: one test to deliver groceries and household essentials, another for health and wellness products and a third for COVID-19 self-collection kits.
The COVID-19 program being run in partnership with Quest Diagnostics offered a way for the retailer to get testing kits to customers in a contactless manner. The pilot served Walmart customers in North Las Vegas and Cheektowaga, NY, that live within a mile of designated supercenter locations. Drones landed the kits on customers’ driveways, sidewalks or backyards depending on trees and cars. Customers return the kits via a prepaid package after administering the test to themselves.
- Walmart Teams Up with Cruise to Pilot All-Electric Self-Driving Delivery Powered by 100% Renewable Energy – Walmart
- Walmart Sets Goal to Become a Regenerative Company – Walmart
- Walmart Now Piloting Drone Delivery of COVID-19 At-Home Self-Collection Kits – Walmart
- Can retailers drive climate change action? – RetailWire
- Walmart pilots its way into the drone delivery race – RetailWire
- Will Walmart’s best shoppers ditch Amazon Prime for Walmart+? – RetailWire
- Will Walmart’s customers pay $10 more to get deliveries in two hours? – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Are retailers and their technology partners getting close to making self-driving delivery services a reality on a widespread basis? What do you see as the biggest hurdles still to be overcome and what are the opportunities associated with this form of delivery?