In June this year, Amazon announced “Amazon logistics”, a crowd-sourced delivery platform where they aimed to build and grow successful package delivery business. As a stark coincidence, Walmart announced yesterday the testing of “spark delivery service”, a pilot program which will deliver groceries directly to customers doorsteps. The race is certainly on to win hearts and minds in online grocery.
What is Spark Delivery Service
Spark Delivery is a crowd-sourced delivery platform in a way similar to Uber and Lyft’s ride-hailing network. The pilot uses an in-house platform that provides drivers with the ability to sign up for windows of time that work best for their schedule as well as grocery delivery order details, navigation assistance and more.
The program is Walmart’s latest attempt to build out a more robust delivery network so it can get online orders delivered even faster to customers’ homes. It’s all part of Walmart’s ongoing quest to better compete in a world where its rival Amazon is increasingly moving into offline retail.
How technology supports “Spark”
The backend technology helps the retailer optimize driver schedules, automatically dispatch orders, and allow drivers to communicate their availability. It will also send drivers smart alerts to ensure they don’t miss deliveries. The technology also allows the customer to track their delivery and estimated time to arrive.
Spark delivery will involve Walmart using technology to manage almost every facet of the delivery, including the logistical backend, management and recruiting of drivers, and background checks and accounting. Deliveries will be handled like rides in a ride-hailing network, with algorithms determining how to best route drivers and orders to customers’ homes. Spark delivery is being piloted in New Orleans and Nashville before a broader rollout across the US.
As delivery wars continue to heat up, technology plays a major role in last mile delivery. By automating key components of delivery management, driver and customer components, technology helps the last mile delivery services operate at its best by enabling it to manage the fleet at scale, onboard delivery agents, offer real-time visibility to everyone involved, and create seamless customer delivery experiences.