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Walmart Turning Shoppers into Couriers

Considering a plan to deliver online purchases

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Walmart Stores Inc. (Bentonville, Ark.) announced it is considering a plan to have its store customers deliver packages to online buyers.

The move would be part of a new initiative sometimes called “crowd-sourcing.”

“I see a path to where this is crowd-sourced,” Joel Anderson, ceo of Walmart.com in the United States, told Reuters.

Walmart has millions of customers visiting its stores each week. Some of these shoppers could tell the retailer where they live and sign up to drop off packages for online customers who live on their route back home, Anderson said. Walmart would offer a discount on those customers’ shopping bills, effectively covering the cost of their gas in return for the delivery of packages, he added.

The effort is likely to face numerous legal, regulatory and privacy obstacles, and Walmart executives said it was at an early planning stage.

“This is at the brain-storming stage, but it’s possible in a year or two,” said Jeff McAllister, senior vp of Walmart U.S. innovations.

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Walmart currently ships online orders directly from 25 of its stores, part of an experiment to cut transportation costs and gain an edge over online retailers that don’t have physical stores. It plans to double that to 50 this year and could expand the program to hundreds of stores in the future.

It’s also testing a same-day delivery service called Walmart To Go, using its own delivery trucks.

The announcement came a day after Walmart revealed that it was considering in-store storage lockers for online purchases to be picked up.

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