Wal-Mart's race against Amazon.com for speedier shipping is making it consider asking customers to deliver packages to online buyers.
Shoppers at the world's largest retailer could sign up to drop off packages for online customers who live on their route back home, Joel Anderson, chief executive of Walmart.com in the U.S., said in a recent interview with Reuters.
Wal-Mart, in turn, would offer a discount on the deliverer's shopping bill to cover the cost of gas, Anderson said.
"This is at the brain-storming stage," said Jeff McAllister, senior vice president of Walmart U.S. innovations, "but it's possible in a year or two."
Yesterday, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman downplayed the idea, calling it "just a casual mention."
"There are no plans to roll this out," Ashley Hardie said. "No work has been done to explore it as an option."
Michael Tesler, a retail consultant at Norwell's Retail Concepts, said the idea sounds "a little green and sustainable" but "rife with danger."
"There are a lot of challenges that would make it difficult, including insurance and liability," Tesler said. "What happens if a customer has an accident making a delivery?"
Theft, he added, would also be a possibility.
A UPS spokeswoman, who asked not to be identified, said, "Wal-Mart is a great customer of ours, and we'll definitely be watching to see how this plays out."
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