- Walmart plans to acquire the platform, intellectual property and staff of last-mile delivery app JoyRun for an undisclosed sum, Srini Venkatesan, executive vice president at Walmart Global Tech, announced on LinkedIn Thursday.
- JoyRun is a peer-to-peer delivery app wherein users can share that they are making a trip to a retail store or restaurant and neighbors can purchase items from the same store through the app for the original poster to deliver. The app has 30,000 users and roughly 540 retail partners, according to Venkatesan.
- When the deal closes, expected within several weeks, Walmart will temporarily shut down the app while it assesses the intellectual property and business model. It will then relaunch it in some form, though a Walmart spokesperson said that could be different from the original.
"This acquisition allows us to further augment our team and ongoing efforts to explore even more ways to deliver for customers in the future. For instance, Runners could complement our SPARK program and 3rd Party delivery providers," Venkatesan wrote on LinkedIn.
JoyRun's team will join the supply chain technology team, within Walmart's Bay Area global tech team, which extended remote work indefinitely this year.
At this point, Walmart does not know if or how JoyRun will integrate into its existing last-mile portfolio, the spokesperson said. But the retailer's move to acquire the 5-year-old Bay Area startup presents more evidence that Walmart's strategy continues to diversify.
Current last-mile strategies and pilots include autonomous delivery vehicles. third-party services, in-sourced delivery services to the doorstep and inside consumers' homes, and experimentation with drones.
Though it may not last beyond Walmart's assessment, JoyRun's peer-to-peer delivery is somewhat similar to gig-economy-driven, last-mile provider Roadie, which Walmart also partners with, in that the intention is for the drivers to pick up an extra task to complete during trips they are already making. Roadie calls this model "on the way" delivery.
In JoyRun's existing model, which started exclusively on college campuses and eventually branched out, users offering delivery services can send a message to other users in their areas that they are making a trip and invite then to "join the order."
Though Walmart is consistently diversifying its last-mile offering, it sheds last-mile providers with some regularity. Skipcart ended its relationship with the retailer this year, telling Bloomberg the company was losing money. Uber, Lyft and now-defunct (and Target-acquired) Deliv also parted ways with Walmart within the last two years.
Walmart Chief Financial Officer Brett Biggs called out direct-to-home delivery and curbside pickup as the driving forces behind the retailer's 41% YoY growth in e-commerce in Q3, during a recent earnings call. The company now offers "Express Delivery" from 2,700 stores in under half an hour. These forces combined with the ongoing pandemic explain the Walmart's appetite for last-mile delivery capacity.