Walmart has been expanding the food section in its stores for the past few years. It plans to disrupt the grocery business the way it has disrupted the retail sales sector. Now when you go to a Walmart to buy beach chairs or an oil filter, you can pick up fresh and frozen food for dinner. It looks a little odd to see apples and pears stacked across the aisle from household appliances, but the plan must be working. Walmart is extending its food retailing operations to more of its stores.
Now, the folks at Walmart are trying another experiment. They are using Uber and Lyft drivers to bring groceries from their stores to shoppers who order online. That way, the customer never has to leave home or fight traffic to get to the nearest Walmart location. Its another example of how the ride hailing economy can be used to make travelling by automobile unnecessary.
Once an order is placed over the internet. Walmart employees will assemble the choices, bring them to the front of the store, and summon a driver from either Uber or Lyft to take them to the customer’s home. For the time being, the idea is being tested with Uber drivers in Denver and Lyft drivers in Phoenix. It is also partnering with a service called Deliv in Miami. Customers will pay between $7 and $10 per delivery to get their groceries delivered to their door.
The grocery business is facing competition from other retailers as well. Both Target and Amazon are poised to jump into the grocery business. The days of the supermarket may be coming to an end, just as the notion of the neighborhood market came to an abrupt halt 30 years ago. The new paradigm is all about efficiency. Whoever can move the most amount of food items at the lowest cost stands to win at this game.
In the Northeast, Stop & Shop supermarkets have been toying with the idea of home delivery for years, using its Peapod division. But taking advantage of Uber or Lyft frees the seller from having more employees. No benefits, no labor/management issues, no withholding, and no payroll concerns are all big pluses.
Lyft and Uber may have issues with their drivers from time to time. 5,000 drivers have just files suit against Uber in New York City, claiming they are employees and not independent contractors, according to Fortune. Good luck to them. Uber and every car maker in the world are pressing ahead with autonomous driving technology. It won’t be long before drivers become irrelevant.