Raising eyebrows, Wal-Mart executives told Reuters they are considering a plan that would have customers deliver gifts for other customers.
Wal-Mart has been looking at same-day delivery options to compete with e-tail giant Amazon.com. The crowd-sourced option would involve customers who visit the retail giant’s stores telling the company where they live, and then dropping off packages for fellow customers on the way home. Those carriers would then get a discount.
“This is at the brain-storming stage, but it’s possible in a year or two,” Jeff McAllister, senior vice president of Wal-Mart U.S. Innovations, told the news agency, which added that the scheme faces “numerous legal, regulatory, and privacy obstacles.”
The plan has received some incredulous reactions, with business school professor Marty Lariviere writing in Business Insider that “it sounds like an April Fool’s joke.”
He noted that the carriers would seemingly bear the risk of carrying the package.
“I might be willing to make one stop on my way home for an easy 10 bucks, but I may not be willing to risk being blamed for $200 worth of stuffing going missing for a mere sawbuck,” he added.
Though he added: “It may just be that Wal-Mart wants to cultivate a pool of independent contractors who hang out at the store hoping for the opportunity to deliver packages. That’s not so much crowd-sourcing as taking advantage of a weak labor market.”