Walmart has partnered with a delivery logistics company called Bringg to help it improve and further build out its last-mile delivery, primarily for groceries and household goods. The news, announced yesterday, coincides with the launch of a new Walmart program the company is calling Spark Delivery, which will crowdsource deliveries in a way similar to Uber and Lyft’s ride-hailing network. The program is Walmart’s latest attempt to build out a more robust delivery network so it can get online orders delivered even faster to customers’ homes. It’s all part of Walmart’s ongoing quest to better compete in a world where its rival Amazon is increasingly moving into offline retail.

Spark Delivery joins Walmart’s existing grocery delivery service, which has been live in various markets in the US and in varying capacities since March. The company has the goal of offering delivery in 100 metro areas covering 40 percent of US households by the end of the year. Walmart currently offers its grocery delivery service, which costs $9.95 per order with a minimum shopping cart of $30, in nearly 50 markets, and it uses tens of thousands of contract workers and existing employees to help get orders delivered to homes.

It also partnered with Uber, Lyft, Postmates, Doordash, and even Alphabet’s self-driving Waymo division to help it cover more challenging and hard-to-reach markets. Walmart has since ended its deals with Uber and Lyft in May, but it added Atlanta via DoorDash in April and Southern California via Postmates in July.

Spark Delivery, on the other hand, will involve Walmart using Bringg’s technology to manage almost every facet of the delivery, including the logistical backend, management and recruiting of drivers, and background checks and accounting.

Deliveries will be handled like rides in a ride-hailing network, with algorithms determining how to best route drivers and orders to customers’ homes. Spark Delivery is being piloted in New Orleans and Nashville before a broader rollout across the US.

Walmart, it appears, is trying everything it can to catch up to the logistics network Amazon is building out for its suite of delivery services. Those include the same-day service Prime Now, its household goods service Prime Pantry, its fresh food delivery service Amazon Restaurants, and its grocery delivery service Amazon Fresh. Amazon has launched a Whole Foods-specific free grocery delivery service for Prime members well, which recently expanded to parts of New York City and Florida in July.

Considering delivery startups like Instacart and in-house services for chains like Safeway, it’s safe to say that the grocery delivery wars are only going to continue heating up.

Source: The Verge