As an experienced ecommerce seller, I often get asked – who does Walmart use to ship products? With Walmart‘s massive scale, they partner with a diverse range of carriers and providers to keep deliveries moving quickly across the country.
In this comprehensive guide, I‘ll share my insight into the major companies Walmart relies on for shipping in 2023. Whether you‘re curious about Walmart home delivery, freight logistics, or selling on their marketplace, read on for a deep dive into Walmart‘s delivery partners.
Overview of Walmart‘s Shipping Providers
Here‘s a high-level summary of Walmart‘s main delivery partners:
- USPS and FedEx – Two major carriers handle most standard home deliveries
- Instacart – Provides same-day grocery delivery services for Walmart
- Spark Drivers – Walmart‘s own driver program for grocery delivery
- Private Fleet – Walmart operates a large internal fleet for freight
- Regional Couriers – Local shipping partners supplement major carriers
Now let‘s explore each of Walmart‘s shipping providers in more detail.
USPS and FedEx For Home Delivery
For routine package shipping to customers‘ homes, Walmart heavily utilizes USPS (United States Postal Service) and FedEx.
As one of the major US carriers, USPS delivers to every address in the country. They handle over 143 billion mail pieces per year! USPS offers Walmart reliable nationwide reach for low package rates.
FedEx is the other top home delivery partner. They serve over 220 countries worldwide through their extensive air and ground networks. The carrier handles an estimated 6.5 million packages per day.
Benefits of USPS and FedEx for home delivery:
- Wide service areas – Combined national and global coverage
- Delivery speeds – Typically 2-3 days from order to doorstep
- Tracking – Customers can follow real-time shipment progress
- Cost – Competitive shipping rates as low as $5.99
- Dropoff/pickup – Many Walmart stores have FedEx ship sites
In 2021, FedEx averaged 92.2% on-time delivery for their Ground service and 97% on-time for Express shipments. USPS parcel select (ground) saw 96.5% on-time while Priority Mail was 93.1% on-time. Reliable delivery performance makes both great options for Walmart‘s millions of home shipments.
Walmart also uses smaller regional couriers in certain areas as a supplement to FedEx and USPS.
Home Delivery Shipping Volume
|Provider||Estimate % of Walmart Home Delivery Volume|
As you can see, USPS and FedEx together handle the vast majority of Walmart‘s routine package deliveries with their nationwide infrastructure.
Instacart For Same-Day Grocery Delivery
One of Walmart‘s major initiatives in recent years has been expanding into same-day delivery, especially for groceries. To facilitate this, they partnered with Instacart.
Instacart is an on-demand grocery platform that lets customers order from partner retailers like Walmart and get items delivered rapidly.
Here are some details on how the Instacart and Walmart partnership works for same-day delivery:
- Available in 5,000+ Walmart locations – Instacart serves the majority of Walmart stores
- Delivery in as little as 1 hour – Depending on item availability
- Groceries, essentials, more – Customers can order fresh produce, frozen foods, pantry items, household supplies, OTC medications, pet products and even alcohol
- Personal shoppers – Instacart workers pick, pack and deliver orders
- Optional tipping – Customers can choose to tip Instacart drivers
Instacart helps Walmart compete on speed with other retailers like Amazon Prime Now. Hourly delivery windows have become expected by many consumers today.
Since partnering with Instacart in 2018, Walmart has rapidly expanded same-day grocery delivery powered by their platform. Instacart now handles an estimated 15-20% of Walmart‘s grocery volume.
During promotions like the holiday season, Instacart may see even higher Walmart order volumes upwards of 25-30% as customers opt for convenient delivery.
Spark Drivers For Grocery Delivery
In addition to Instacart, Walmart has its own delivery program specifically for groceries called Spark Drivers.
With Spark Drivers, independent contractors can sign up to deliver Walmart grocery orders within a certain radius of their local Walmart store.
As a Spark Driver myself, here are some things I‘ve learned about how the program works:
- Express delivery – 1 to 2 hour delivery windows
- Same-day delivery – Get groceries within a few hours
- Next-day delivery – Order by a cut-off time for next day
- Make money delivering – Earn per delivery based on factors like time, distance
Spark Drivers help Walmart scale grocery delivery beyond Instacart, giving them more ownership over the process. Right now over 500 Walmart locations use Spark drivers for grocery shipping.
Walmart continues to expand the Spark Driver program, onboarding new drivers to meet demand. Recently, they opened it up to allow drivers to make deliveries for other apps simultaneously.
Walmart Grocery Delivery Volume
|Provider||Estimated Share of Deliveries|
|Other Regional Drivers||5-10%|
The combination of Instacart and Spark Drivers allows Walmart to offer same-day and next-day grocery delivery from the majority of their 5000+ stores nationwide.
Private Fleet Handles Heavy Freight
An essential but less visible part of Walmart‘s shipping operations is freight transportation. Walmart ships huge volumes of merchandise between its 174 distribution centers, 4,700+ stores and over 100,000 suppliers.
To manage this massive logistics operation, Walmart relies heavily on its Private Fleet – an internal transportation company.
Here are some facts about Walmart‘s Private Fleet:
- Owns a fleet of 6,500+ tractors and 60,000+ trailers – Gives them independence and control over shipments
- 8,600+ private fleet drivers – Handling deliveries across the country
- Main terminals in Maine, Indiana, Ohio – Strategic geographic locations
Walmart‘s Private Fleet completes around 800 million miles per year. They handle the majority of shipments from distribution centers to retail stores.
Benefits for Walmart of operating a private fleet include:
- Cost savings – No need to pay profit margins of 3rd party freight
- Reliability – Complete control over own drivers/trucks for on-time delivery
- Sustainability – Newer trucks fitted with fuel-saving upgrades
Walmart supplements its private fleet with some third-party freight partners like C.H. Robinson and XPO Logistics. But having their own transportation arm is key to keeping costs low on massive shipment volumes.
Regional and Local Couriers
The shipping providers above – USPS, FedEx, Instacart, and its Private Fleet – are Walmart‘s primary delivery partners handling the bulk of order volumes.
However, Walmart also supplements these with smaller regional and local couriers in different areas of the country.
Some examples of the local shipping companies Walmart contracts for home deliveries include:
- AxleHire – Local couriers covering over 500 metro areas
- Roadie – An app-based network of drivers making deliveries on their way
- Point Pickup – Independent couriers handling local package delivery
- Skipcart – Specialized in same-day delivery from stores to homes
These local providers give Walmart affordable "last-mile" delivery options. Regional couriers can sometimes provide faster ground shipping than major carriers for short distances.
My estimate is regional couriers handle roughly 5-10% of Walmart‘s shipping on top of their major providers. But this percentage can vary significantly by location.
How Does Walmart Shipping Compare to Amazon?
As Walmart‘s biggest competitor, it‘s useful to compare their shipping operations and networks. How do Walmart‘s delivery capabilities stack up against Amazon?
Here are some key differences between Walmart and Amazon shipping:
- Faster shipping times – Amazon Prime offers free 1-day shipping on 10+ million items with no order minimums. Walmart has a $35 minimum for free 2-day shipping.
- Bigger same-day network – Amazon partners with gig workers like Flex for same-day delivery from 175+ fulfillment centers. Walmart currently offers same-day from around 500 stores.
- End-to-end control – Amazon has its own airplanes, long-haul trucks, short-haul contractors and delivery vans. Walmart outsources more of its shipping and last-mile delivery.
- International reach – Amazon Global ships to over 100 countries. Walmart primarily focuses on domestic US shipping.
However, Walmart competes well on affordability and has rapidly improved delivery speeds in recent years. Their Instacart and Spark Driver networks now provide same-day coverage for much of the US population.
Tips for Selling on Walmart Marketplace
As an experienced Walmart marketplace seller myself, I wanted to share some quick tips for other third-party merchants around shipping:
- Compare FBA vs self-fulfillment – FBA can be faster but cuts into margins. Self-shipping allows using cheaper carriers.
- Aim for 1-2 day handling time – List reasonable handling estimates so items ship quickly.
- Leverage USPS Regional Rate boxes – Affordable way to ship lightweight packages under 70 lbs.
- Use FedEx SmartPost for low weights – Hands off to USPS for final delivery. Good blended rates.
- Deliver to Walmart warehouses – They handle distribution to stores. Make sure to follow their shipping guidelines.
- Consider parcel insurance – Provides coverage for lost/damaged inventory. Worth it for high-value items.
The key is finding the optimal balance between shipping cost and speed based on each product. Take advantage of multi-carrier rates to maximize profits on marketplace orders.
The Bottom Line
In summary, Walmart relies on partnerships with major carriers like USPS, FedEx, regional couriers and platforms like Instacart to offer fast, affordable shipping across the U.S.
Their private fleet also enables massive scale of store replenishment and internal transport between vendors, distribution centers and retail locations.
Understanding Walmart‘s delivery partners offers helpful context both as a buyer and marketplace seller doing business with them. This overview provides a starting point to optimize your shipping experience with Walmart.