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Reuters reports that Walmart has “quietly retreated” from an ambitious plan that it laid out last year for having store employees “bring online orders directly to shoppers’ homes after completing their usual shifts of up to nine hours on the sales floors.”

The goal of the plan was to take advantage of Walmart’s broad geographic reach and high number of employees to tackle the “last mile” issue that plagues so many retailers. And, by paying the employees to make the deliveries, Walmart would have a way to boost employee wages while getting greater profitability.

The initial test was in New Jersey and Arkansas: “ Walmart started the program with the idea that store employees could courier all items that would fit in a car. But the initiative failed to gain traction with skeptical employees who had to use their time after work, according to sixteen workers who participated in the trial … Fourteen of the sixteen Walmart employees told Reuters that they were put off by the program’s poor compensation. And all of them expressed concern over who would be responsible if they got into an accident or if merchandise was lost.”

The story goes on: “Walmart is now testing a more modest service with just four Walmart employees who deliver goods from a single store in Woodstock, Georgia, Reuters has learned. In this latest initiative, Walmart is also overhauling the guidelines for employees and limiting deliveries to groceries and related items such as paper plates.”
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