June 1 (UPI) -- National discount retailer Walmart is testing home delivery service in three U.S. markets through a mobile phone application that matches customers' addresses with employees' commutes.
In a blog post Thursday, Walmart e-commerce CEO Marc Lore said employees at three stores -- two in New Jersey and one in Arkansas -- are participating on a volunteer basis to deliver ordered items to customers whose residences are located close to their route home.
"Our latest test is taking [customer service] another step further and leveraging one of our greatest assets -- our associates -- to get online orders to customers' doors," Lore wrote. "Not only can this cut shipping costs and get packages to their final destinations faster and more efficiently, it creates a special win-win-win for customers, associates and the business."
The home delivery test also serves shoppers of Jet.com, an e-commerce company founded by Lore and acquired by Walmart last year.
The new effort is the latest in a series of new concepts the retailer has introduced recently. Lore cited online grocery pickup, two-day free shipping and store pickup discounts as other measures designed to upgrade customers' experience in shopping on Walmart.com.
"It just makes sense: We already have trucks moving orders from fulfillment centers to stores for pickup. Those same trucks could be used to bring ship-to-home orders to a store close to their final destination, where a participating associate can sign up to deliver them to the customer's house," he added. "The best part is this gives our own associates a way to earn extra income on their existing drive home."
Willing employees in New Jersey and Arkansas choose the number and size of packages they are able to deliver on their route home. If the new delivery strategy succeeds, Walmart expects to expand it to other stores throughout the country.
"It's easy to see why this test could be a game-changer," Lore said.
Arkansas-based Walmart is one of the largest retail employers in the United States -- with 4,700 stores and 1.3 million employees. Lore said the chain's numerous locations places it within a 10-mile reach of 90 percent of the U.S. population.