Crowdsourced Delivery


Supply Chain Technology

Published Date:



Bangalore, India

Sunnyvale, CA

Crowdsourced Delivery


  • Java 8
  • Spring Boot
  • Cloud RDMBS
  • Strati Platform
  • Medusa
  • Elastic Search
  • Forklift


Walmart started its grocery delivery service via refrigerated trucks in San Jose. Customers place orders on Walmart’s grocery site, book a delivery appointment and receive their orders at home. A routing engine creates optimized routes based on the incoming orders. Once the orders are picked and packed in the store, they are loaded in the trucks and delivered in the sequence determined by the routing engine to meet the customer’s promised appointment.


Home Delivery of groceries is generally more complex than shipping books, electronics, toys, apparel and other items. The primary reason being food is perishable. Melted ice-creams, bruised fruits and cracked eggs not only have a negative impact on margins but also reflect poorly on the customer experience. Additionally, the last mile contributes to nearly a third of the overall supply chain costs.

Large Order Sizes: Unlike electronics or apparel orders, Grocery orders are very large in size with grocery items range from Milk and Meat to Potatoes and Pizzas

Cold Chain Compliance: Most frozen or chilled items cannot be kept out of the cold chain for periods of time adding complexity and cost.

Delivery Density: The vast geography of US meant that apart from urban, metro cities delivery density was not desirable in most markets

Attended Delivery: Due to their perishable nature, groceries can only be delivered when someone is available at home to receive the orders increasing time spent at the customer doorstep and reducing deliveries per hour increasing cost.

On-Time delivery: A truck typically delivers several orders in a trip. Since each order has a customer appointment, a delay in one order has cascading effect on the rest of the deliveries. This often results in low on-time delivery and poor customer experience.

Same Day Delivery: Due to long routes and a significant lead time, trucks don’t favour same day deliveries


Given these challenges Walmart decided to pilot crowdsourced delivery in one of its markets. The Supply Chain team built a last mile delivery platform to enable easy integration with crowdsourced delivery partners.

Customer Experience
  • The delivery platform supports both express orders and regular scheduled orders and prioritizes the need for a vehicle from a 3PL partner based on the delivery urgency
  • The delivery platform keeps track of all delivery events and informs the customer about the delivery in real time – vehicle details, driver details along with live tracking
  • In the meantime, the crowdsourced delivery partner is updated with customer specified instructions, such as the customer’s apartment gate code or other parking/delivery instructions.

Store Experience
  • Store operations are important stakeholders in the fulfilment of online orders, and every effort is made to ensure seamless operations. An important component of this is to ensure that whether the order is a Click and Collect order or a Home delivery order – each order is split across overlapping operational steps
  • The delivery platform begins tracking the vehicle location once a driver is assigned to an order and the vehicle is tracked and monitored till the driver reaches the store. A couple of minutes before the 3PL vehicle reaches the store, the platform starts to notify the store about the incoming 3PL vehicle so that store associates can prepare the order and dispense it to the driver while minimizing wait time
  • The store associates are also provided visibility of not only the picking process but also the delivery progress (alerted using app, sms when orders are stuck at different stages for more time than required).

  • The delivery platform reacts in different ways to the delivery requirements based on whether the order is an express order that requires a vehicle immediately or a scheduled order that requires a vehicle at a predetermined time. It supports order promising in real time on the website where it works together with the picking order promise platform estimating the time of order fulfilment.
  • For time sensitive express orders, 3PL vehicles are booked even before picking the order is completed. This ensures that the 3PL vehicle arrives at the store ready to pick up the order by the time picking is completed
  • The system configures the different times at which 3PL partners should reach the store to pick up the order based on vehicle availability and picking time considerations
  • The platform tracks delivery vehicles using a combination of statuses, current lat/lon location of the vehicle and estimated time of arrivals of the vehicle at the store. For the rare occasion of not actually finding a 3PL vehicle during peak periods, the system has been built to repeat the vehicle request process finally triggering alerts to support teams and store operations of a probable customer impact event
  • The moment the vehicle is a couple of minutes away from the store, the platform starts to intimate the store associates of its arrival via an app. The store is also notified of the make, model of the vehicle along with the driver details. This process has been replicated from the customer pick up process where the customer intimates the store of its arrival using the Walmart mobile app and parks at the same parking lot
  • Post loading of the order, the platform triggers an email to the customer informing them of the delivery status and provides all relevant vehicle and driver details to identify the 3PL partner vehicle along with a real-time vehicle tracking link.
  • The delivery platform is also capable of tracking return orders back to the store informing stores about the order, vehicle and differentiates between a driver coming to pick up an order vs a driver coming to return an order.


  • Delivery cost has reduced by high 50%s
  • Regular order on-time delivery at high 95s%
  • Express orders are almost always delivered on time
  • Quick and Easy on boarding of new partners

Any reference in this case study to any specific commercial product, process, or service, or the use of any trade, firm or corporation name is for information and convenience purposes only, and does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

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