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The Wall Street Journal has a story about when Walmart decided to start offering grocery delivery via Door Dash from a store in North Bergen, New Jersey, it got caught by surprise when orders came “orders flooding in from across the Hudson River,” in Manhattan.

Part of the problem was that the $11 delivery fee didn’t even cover the $15 toll charged to go across the George Washington Bridge.

“‘We never would have gone in with the intention that this would work with $11,’ said a spokeswoman for Walmart, which hadn’t intended to include Manhattan within the delivery radius. ‘We offered additional incentive to drivers to finish the orders that came in,’ then stopped offering deliveries to Manhattan after a few days, she said.”

The Journal notes that “the mistake shows the hurdles Walmart and other large grocers face as they race to expand fresh-food delivery and gain an edge in one of the fastest-growing e-commerce segments. Despite Walmart’s resources and more than 1.5 million U.S. workers, it mainly relies on a patchwork of independent companies to expand its delivery services as quickly, broadly and cheaply as possible. For drivers at those delivery firms, the economics of shuttling Walmart’s and other grocers’ orders don’t always make sense.”

And yet, Walmart firmly believes that “maintaining a grip on grocery purchases as spending shifts online is vital to heading off Amazon, especially since it is a rare area where Walmart has a head start.”

The story notes that “Walmart is offering delivery from 800 stores, with another 800 planned this year, mostly by joining with firms like DoorDash that crowdsource drivers.”
KC's View:
One thing about this story struck me as funny - that the GWB has a $15 toll. I go over it all the time, but hadn’t really paid attention … like so many people, I have EZ Pass, and so the increases have been relatively painless and unnoticed.

As for Walmart … it just seems to me that at some point it is going to have to bite the bullet and create a delivery system for which it has control and responsibility. The costs in the short term may be higher, but the long-term branding advantages may make it worthwhile.