Traditionally infamous for crowding out and shutting down small retailers, Walmart is making a new push to help them keep up in the age of online ordering. That could prove to be great news for gig drivers.
Here’s what we know.
What is Walmart GoLocal?
Walmart has been ramping up its membership and delivery services in an effort to keep up with Amazon and other competitors. The latest weapon in Walmart’s arsenal is GoLocal, a new white-label delivery service.
The company’s Express Delivery Service launched three years ago. Since then, Walmart has been busy fine-tuning and scaling up to deliver local orders in less than two hours through its network of independent Spark Drivers.
Currently, Express Delivery covers 160,000+ items from more than 3,000 stores across the United States, reaching nearly 70 percent of the U.S. population. Now, Walmart is opening its delivery network to other businesses through GoLocal, which the company is billing as a new “delivery as a service” business.
How does Walmart GoLocal work?
Essentially, the service is the same as Express Delivery, but now delivery drivers will get orders from other retailers as well as Walmart. There is, however, one significant difference between GoLocal and other platforms: Customers will not place any orders directly on GoLocal.
Instead, interested businesses can integrate the Walmart GoLocal API into their own commerce platforms. When a customer places an order, Walmart GoLocal receives the information about the order and pings Spark Drivers with the opportunity to take the delivery.
This makes GoLocal a true competitor to DoorDash, Instacart, and other such delivery platforms. Walmart says its new “delivery as a service” business will offer scheduled, same-day, and other delivery options to cater to businesses of all types, and it allows merchants to retain more control over how their items are marketed and presented to customers.
What does this mean for Spark Drivers?
Ideally, GoLocal should mean more orders, additional types of orders, and new merchants. The impact it will have on drivers’ earnings remains to be seen.
With Walmart treating its Express Delivery network as a stand-alone business now, the company will be under competitive pressure to keep its delivery prices low enough to attract and retain merchants. It’s also possible that opening the Spark Driver platform to smaller businesses could lead to low-value orders, which could negatively affect drivers’ earnings.
Despite some complaints, the Spark Driver platform has been rewarding for many drivers. One of them, Brenda Brown from Las Cruces, New Mexico, made more than $100,000 during her first year (October 2019 to October 2020).
For non-Spark drivers, GoLocal simply means another platform is vying for your attention. Delivery driver earnings are notoriously dependent on the area where they operate. If GoLocal onboards merchants that are a better fit for your area or vehicle, it may be worth your consideration.
What is required to become a driver for GoLocal?
Walmart has yet to reveal exactly when and where GoLocal will go live. But the company has announced that it’s contracted with select merchants and plans to begin deliveries by the end of 2021. Since GoLocal is built on the Spark Driver platform, you can become a Spark driver today and benefit from the platform’s expansion whenever it happens.
To become a Spark driver, you must:
- Be at least 18 years old (21+ to deliver orders containing alcohol)
- Have a vehicle, as Walmart specifies: “Any car that is able to transport orders safely and reliably to customers”*
- Have proof of valid insurance for the vehicle
- Have a smartphone (iOS or Android) that’s capable of running the Spark Driver app. In addition, all devices need a camera with flash and GPS location services.
*Walmart explicitly states that motorcycles, bicycles, and scooters are not suitable for this job. So, our two-wheeled friends may have to look at other options for now.
GoLocal will be available for products of any size, allowing for greater merchant variety. This could also create larger, more profitable gig work opportunities for drivers with larger vehicles.
Advantages of driving for GoLocal as a Spark Driver
- Walmart is a large company with a nationwide presence and an ambition to grow.
- Unlike DoorDash or Instacart, GoLocal is built to cater to businesses and products of all sizes.
- Start-ups and younger companies carry risk that a big company like Walmart can float.
- Spark Drivers only deliver from Walmart stores, which means less time searching for pickup locations.
- Walmart orders are typically big, so both your delivery payout and tips are higher.
Disadvantages of driving for GoLocal as a Spark Driver
- The endgame is to replace human drivers with drones and self-driving vehicles, so you could be working toward your own obsolescence. Heavy, we know.
- Bigger companies take more time to address complaints regarding policies.
- Onboarding smaller businesses to use GoLocal can lead to lower-value orders.
- The Spark Driver app has a rating under 2.5 stars, indicating a high level of dissatisfaction among drivers. Complaints range from terrible pay to delays in processing payments.
How do Spark Driver shifts work?
If you’ve been nodding your head in agreement up until now, you might be interested in becoming a Spark Driver. There’s a bit more you should know.
Spark drivers need to schedule their availability in advance to receive orders in the app. You can schedule your availability for the entire week and make changes and when needed. You can also opt to receive orders outside your scheduled time with “Spark Now” status when the order volume is high.
The Spark Driver program rewards drivers who make more deliveries by prioritizing them for new order offers. So, the higher the number of deliveries you make, the more orders you will receive.
Spark orders can be either “Shopping and Delivery” or “Delivery-only.” If it’s a delivery-only order, Walmart employees will load the order into your car when you reach the pickup point. For shopping and delivery orders (only available in select areas), drivers are required to park their cars, go into the store to collect the items, and deliver them to the customer.
And that’s it! That’s what we know about driving for Walmart GoLocal through the Spark Driver program – so far, that is. Are you a Spark Driver? Share your experience and tell us how you think the launch of GoLocal might affect your business.
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