Friday, December 18, 2020

Walmart: Customers are the Last Mile Solution

Contactless ordering and at-store pick-up has empowered Walmart customers to be the ‘last mile solution’ at Walmart according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®. 

That said Walmart has a long way to go become top-of-mind when it comes to delivery of convenience items according to a recent study released by CS News that found:


1.       GENERATION Z (AGED 18-21) DoorDash

2.       MILLENNIALS (AGED 22-37) Local chain restaurant

3.       GENERATION X (AGED 38-53) Amazon/ Amazon Fresh

4.       BABY BOOMERS (AGED 54-72) Amazon/ Amazon Fresh

So, maybe convenience items and restaurant meals are top of mind as last mile solutions for Walmart customers, but Walmart gets lots of credit at looking at the entire supply chain. Looking at the middle of the supply chain and technology Walmart is expanding the current trial of autonomous box trucks for "middle mile" delivery.

So, in 2019, Walmart began testing use of the trucks for delivery between a fulfillment center and a Neighborhood Market in Bentonville. The trucks were operated in autonomous mode but had a safety driver present. Now, confident in results from the pilot—the trucks have logged more than 70,000 miles along a 2-mile test route, the company said—Walmart is giving the OK for the box trucks to run driverless in Bentonville starting in 2021. Wow, that could be a huge savings for Walmart.

Now, think of how your company can reduce the cost within your supply chain.  EV’s (electric vehicles) will soon be allowed in urban centers as driverless taxi’s. Autonomous EV’s can provide a platform to reduce cost while you improve service according to Johnson. One of the big reasons is true autonomous EV’s have 40% fewer parts (cost less, repair less) than a standard vehicle and with each downloaded upgrade they will also become ‘smarter’.

Walmart is not just looking at the ‘middle mile’ they will begin a trial of the autonomous trucks along a 20-mile route between New Orleans and Metairie, La., early next year. So, that test will have trucks running between a Walmart Supercenter and a designated alternative pickup point for customer orders. As with the initial trial run in Bentonville, the Louisiana test will have a safety driver in place in the vehicles. Palo Alto, Calif.-based software company Gatik is providing the tech behind the vehicles. 

Most of you know that ninety percent of Americans live within 10 miles of a Walmart, but consider this customers who may seek a more-convenient option for picking up their online orders—on the way home from work, for example—alternative pickup locations could provide additional flexibility. Just last week, Walmart noted that it is expanding delivery to neighborhood bodegas in Mexico, and offsite pickup of grocery orders is an established phenomenon for other global retailers. Think about a tailgate party and a stadium pick-up location, beer anyone.

Walmart did not a word of caution saying, “driverless delivery can come with a host of logistical, regulatory and financial headaches, making it a tough nut to crack. Earlier in December, Uber announced it was selling its autonomous driving unit.” That said just remember consumers are dynamic not static and brands need to be as well.

Are you ready for some fresh ideations? Do your food marketing ideations look more like yesterday than tomorrow? Interested in learning how our Grocerant Guru® can edify your retail food brand while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization?  Email us at: or visit 

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