According to a recent article in The Washington Post, Walmart is trying out a new strategy to compete with online retail giant Amazon: "enlisting its employees to deliver online orders on their way home from work." By creating an on-demand network of drivers, Walmart is taking a page from such gig economy pioneers as Lyft and Uber.

While the program is currently limited to two stores in New Jersey and one in Arkansas, the hope is that it will be rolled out nationwide. According to the company's executives, by leveraging Walmart's 1.2 million employees and 4,700 US-based stores, this initiative (dubbed "associate delivery") will enable the company to cut shipping costs while speeding delivery -- making customers happier and Walmart more competitive.

In a blog post, Marc Lore -- chief executive of Walmart's e-commerce business -- explains, "It just makes sense: We already have trucks moving orders from fulfillment centers to stores for pickup. Those same trucks could be used to bring ship-to-home orders to a store close to their final destination, where a participating associate can sign up to deliver them to the customer's house."

The good news for Walmart employees who decide to sign up for the associate delivery program is that they will be compensated for their trouble. Using a smartphone app, employees are able to sign up for up to 10 deliveries a day -- specifying limits for package size and weight. And while it's not yet clear exactly how employees will be paid for this new task, Walmart spokesman Ravi Jariwala says that they will be paid extra, including overtime if necessary.

So don't be surprised if the next delivery you get from Walmart is by way of an employee, maybe a neighbor -- on the way home from work.

Published on: Jun 2, 2017
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.