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Walmart's GoLocal delivery service, which was announced last summer as designed to service other retailers around the country using traditional vehicles as well as autonomous cars and drones, said yesterday that it is teaming up with Cognetry Labs to "provide an integrated white label, turnkey ecommerce plus delivery solution to mid-sized and independent grocery retailers."

Cognetry Labs describes its platform as offering a "full spectrum of ecommerce and fulfillment" services with an "end-to-end AI driven cloud-native solution."

The move seems positioned to provide a counterpoint to Amazon's approach to delivery.

According to the announcement, "Accessing Walmart GoLocal’s network of delivery capabilities allows Cognetry Labs retail clients to grow their own brand and build customer relationships while benefitting from the robust capacity and experience of the world’s largest retailer … Clients can access nationwide, high-capacity coverage to deliver products quickly and efficiently. Walmart GoLocal’s built-in agility allows retailers to expand both coverage and capacity on demand."

Existing GoLocal clients include Home Depot and Chico’s.  Walmart says that the goal is "to bring affordable access to products and services to customers while also empowering businesses to grow using our capabilities and coverage."

KC's View:

The difference between Amazon's and Walmart's delivery ambitions seems to be that Amazon has been doing everything it can to establish its brand as a competitive with FedEx and UPS while not, to this point, contracting with outside retailers;  Walmart GoLocal, on the other hand, keeps emphasizing the "white label" nature of its offering to outside retailers, which says to me that it wants to add a revenue stream without taking advantage of the branding opportunity.  Walmart also seems positioned to undercut traditional delivery services on price, at least in the beginning.

Not surprising that they have differing priorities.  While I have long thought that we'll eventually see those ubiquitous gray Amazon vans delivering products for other retailers, it also may be that their exclusivity is delivering, in addition to items bought from Amazon, a message about the company's reliability, omnipresence, and even, in many cases, omniscience.

I've always said that in the end, Amazon wants to be inextricably intertwined in every part of people's lives, while Walmart's goal is to sell more stuff;  Amazon sees itself as a lifestyle brand, while Walmart, to its very core, is a retailer.

The GoLocal offering is a recognition that this competition is going to play out on a number of stages, and that advantages are to be gained in every place where new revenue streams can be generated.  Retailers that compete with both these companies, however, need to think long and hard about whether they want to swim in these streams.

That said, this is a time when uncommon partnerships may be necessary for smaller companies (and most companies are smaller than Walmart and Amazon) to survive.  One note here: on Sunday, at the National Grocers Association (NGA) show, there will be a Retail Tomorrow block of sessions on Sunday afternoon that will focus on this precise and timely topic.  Tom Furphy and I, both together and separately, will be participating in several of them, and I hope to see you there.