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Walmart testing branded EVs for last-mile deliveries

Program launched in January to serve company’s northwest Arkansas home market

Walmart Inc. (NYSE:WMT) said it is testing a final-mile delivery service in its northwest Arkansas home market with its own branded electric vehicles.

John Furner, president and CEO of Walmart’s U.S. division, briefly mentioned the service during the company’s Tuesday analyst call, which followed the release of its first-quarter fiscal 2022 results. A Walmart spokeswoman confirmed that the service is being piloted in the company’s hometown of Bentonville and in nearby Rogers. The trial began in January.

The electric-van service is part of Walmart’s last-mile delivery initiatives that include an expansion of products eligible for shipping from one of the company’s stores to a residence and, if requested, inside the home and “into the refrigerator,” Furner said. In addition, Walmart will open market fulfillment centers either later this quarter or early in the third quarter, Furner said.

The retailing behemoth has been experimenting with different forms of in-house delivery as it expands its fulfillment footprint. In December, it announced that self-driving box trucks from its partner Gatik that Walmart was using in Arkansas for middle-mile service would operate without the safety driver. Middle-mile is defined as the part of the trip between a warehouse and a store.

In November, Walmart said it would place pop-up e-commerce distribution centers inside 42 of its U.S. Regional Distribution Centers to create more dedicated space to fulfill and deliver an expected mountain of online orders during the peak holiday season and to accommodate elevated e-commerce demand beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mark Solomon

Formerly the Executive Editor at DC Velocity, Mark Solomon joined FreightWaves as Managing Editor of Freight Markets. Solomon began his journalistic career in 1982 at Traffic World magazine, ran his own public relations firm (Media Based Solutions) from 1994 to 2008, and has been at DC Velocity since then. Over the course of his career, Solomon has covered nearly the whole gamut of the transportation and logistics industry, including trucking, railroads, maritime, 3PLs, and regulatory issues. Solomon witnessed and narrated the rise of Amazon and XPO Logistics and the shift of the U.S. Postal Service from a mail-focused service to parcel, as well as the exponential, e-commerce-driven growth of warehouse square footage and omnichannel fulfillment.