As we have reviewed before, large retailers–especially those with grocery stores–are in the midst of a great war over what they call, “the last mile.” The term refers to the distance between a grocery store and a customer’s home. While the biggest battles are among large retailers, small specialty shops and restaurants are part of the fray as more and more customers are seeking deliveries of prepared meals (in addition to pizza).  Steve King, our regular contributor on the topic of on-demand (or “gig”) economy,  first predicted this talent war four years ago.

Here are just some of the recent developments on the food delivery front. 

Previously | Working with Postmates, Shopify’s e-commerce merchants can now offer local same-day delivery in 200+ U.S. locations.

Walmart has been testing several on-demand “last mile” options

  • Walmart is working on “last mile” solutions with Uber and Deliv in several markets, including Dallas, Denver, Orlando, Phoenix, Tampa, and San Jose.
  • Walmart shut down a test program in July that paid Walmart employees for delivering groceries after their regular shifts.
  • Using Nashville and New Orleans as pilot markets, Walmart has started a program called Spark Delivery.
  • Last week, it announced a pilot program called Spark Delivery.
  • Walmart and Google Express have a shopping, delivery relationship

Walmart also investing heavily in its “pickup” program

Walmart pickup program | An online grocery pickup program allowing grocery orders at local stores without getting out of their cars. The “personal shoppers” who work in the pickup program will also support the delivery program.

25,000 | Number of “personal shoppers” who work at Walmart stores, up from 18,000 earlier this year.
1,800 | Number of stores with pickup delivery
2,100 | Number of stores with pickup programs to be open by the end of 2018


Target acquired the delivery firm Shipt, Inc. for $550 million in cash. “The acquisition significantly accelerates Target’s digital fulfillment efforts, bringing same-day delivery services to guests at approximately half of Target stores by early 2018,” the company said in a statement.


As we recently reported, Amazon is breaking new ground with its Delivery Service Partnership that will seed the creation and ownership of small delivery services. Amazon also has an on-demand service called Amazon Flex.


Photos | Walmart, GettyImages

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