By CCN.com: For a company that can’t even employ staff members capable enough to direct shoppers to the right aisle, Walmart is taking an enormous gamble asking customers to trust them to enter their homes.
But that’s exactly what the Bentonville, Ark. behemoth is planning to do in a bid to take on Amazon in the burgeoning home-delivery market. It is pure madness. But will it work?
Walmart is going to launch refrigerator deliveries in Kansas City, Missouri, Pittsburgh, and Vero Beach, Fla. The maneuver was originally trialed in Silicon Valley in 2017 using Lyft drivers in a what was a disastrous failure. Lyft drivers, with the help of Google Maps, made good navigators of streets. Turns out, they weren’t quite as adept at stuffing strangers’ fridges.
In a clear bid to out-Amazon Amazon, Walmart says it will only deploy its most trusted employees inside peoples’ homes. Both companies are also vying off in the next-day delivery market, with Walmart targeting a reach of 75% of American consumers by year-end.
Coresight Research found that almost 40% of U.S. consumers bought groceries online over the past 12 months, up over 10% from 2018 levels. The market is expected to rise to 2.7% by the end of this year.
An Amazon home delivery worker almost found himself shot by rapper Ice-T last month. Amazon delivery workers don’t wear garments that identify them as Amazon employees, putting them at risk of being confused for intruders. The rapper fired off an angry tweet to the company as a result of the incident:
While the rapper’s concerns are valid, they also identify an opportunity for intruders: wear an Amazon vest to avoid suspicion.
Jeff Bezos’ Amazon loathes Walmart and is planning to destroy the company with cheaper prices at subsidiary Whole Foods. According to CNBC’s Jim Cramer:
“They hate, hate, hate Walmart! Walmart is the biggest grocery chain in the country. Amazon will stop at nothing to take away the [market] share that Walmart has gained.”
Walmart concedes the roll-out, which will begin this fall, may take some time to catch on. Per Marc Lore, president and CEO of Walmart e-Commerce, stated:
“There will be early adopters and then word of mouth will spread. It’s like Airbnb.”
The company is also being cautious about which employees will be performing refrigerator stocking, only allowing employees that have been with the company for at least 12 months and have completed a W-2 form. They will also don a camera, meaning customers can view their activities in real time.
But whether a company notorious for paying almost unemployable people tiny wages will be able to earn customer trust – which Amazon has spent over a decade doing – is yet to be seen.