Is Every Company a Delivery Company?

I’ve commented several times about Meg Whitman’s statement a few years ago that “every company is a technology company.” Back in July, for example, I revisited the quote in response to Walmart’s announcement that it will offer technologies and capabilities to help other businesses navigate their own digital transformation and C.H. Robinson’s announcement of a new Chief Products Officer.

Another press release by Walmart last week, however, made me wonder: Is every company a delivery company too?

Walmart Launches Walmart GoLocal

Here are some excerpts from the press release:

[Walmart] is commercializing its delivery platform, beginning with delivery as a service, helping businesses of all sizes bring their products closer to their customers’ doorsteps.

Walmart GoLocal is poised to be a top white-label delivery service provider and furthers the retailer’s strategy to build alternative revenue streams and profit pools.

“We’ve worked hard to develop a reliable last mile delivery program for our customers,” said Tom Ward, senior vice president, last mile, Walmart U.S. “Now, we’re pleased to be able to use these capabilities to serve another set of customers, local merchants. Be it delivering goods from a local bakery to auto supplies from a national retailer, we’ve designed Walmart GoLocal to be customizable for merchants of all sizes and categories so they can focus on doing what they do best, leaving delivery speed and efficiency to us.”

There is Walmart the Retailer. Walmart the Provider of Cloud-based Software. Walmart the Provider of E-commerce Fulfillment Services. And now Walmart the Provider of White-Label Delivery Services.

Of course, delivery is synonymous with Amazon, and Target has been offering delivery services via its Shipt acquisition a few years ago. So, you can view this announcement as Walmart coming up to par with its main competitors.

More broadly, however, this is another example of how the lines between different industries and business models are continuing to blur and converge.

What business are you in? 

“It seems like a straightforward question, and one that should take no time to answer,” writes Anthony J. Tjan in a 2014 HBR blog post. “But the truth is that most company leaders are too narrow in defining their competitive landscape or market space. They fail to see the potential for ‘non-traditional’ competitors, and therefore often misperceive their basic business definition and future market space.”

I’ve written many times that third-party logistics providers (3PLs) need to ask themselves “What business are we in?” — and that the traditional answer is no longer adequate (see my recent commentary on Uber Freight’s acquisition of Transplace). 

The same goes for FedEx and UPS, and supply chain and logistics software vendors too.

(I also need to ask myself that question.)

Yes, every company is a technology company, and every company is a delivery company too. Delivery is the new moment of truth, a moment where you can further delight your customer and strengthen your brand reputation, or a moment where you can potentially lose a customer for life. Delivery is also, as Walmart notes, a way “to build alternative revenue streams and profit pools.”

Yes, we’ve come a long way from delivery being viewed as just a cost center. It is now strategic, a competitive weapon, a (potential) money maker.