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New programme has Wal-Mart workers making home deliveries

Want something from Wal-Mart? Employees may soon bring it right to your doorstep.

[NEW YORK] Want something from Wal-Mart? Employees may soon bring it right to your doorstep.

The company said on Thursday it was testing a programme under which store employees will deliver goods to consumers on their way home, as it competes for business with Amazon and other online retailers.

Wal-Mart said the programme, launched in three test stores in the United States with an eye towards broader use, would be voluntary for employees, who would earn extra money for packages delivered.

"Associates are fully in control of their experience," said Wal-Mart US eCommerce chief executive Marc Lore in a blog post. "If they don't want to participate, they don't have to."

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"Associates choose how many packages they can deliver, the size and weight limits of those packages and which days they're able to make deliveries after work - it's completely up to them, and they can update those preferences at any time." Mr Lore described the initiative as a potential "game-changer" because the chain's vast scale could enable it to make deliveries more quickly to consumers.

Wal-Mart, the world's biggest retailer, has 4,700 stores across the country, with its stores within 16km of 90 per cent of the US population.

The initiative will begin at two stores in New Jersey and one in Arkansas.

The programmes comes as Wal-Mart continues to beef up its e-commerce business, which is still small compared with market leader Amazon, which accounts for about 43 per cent of US online sales, according to consultancy Slice Intelligence.

But Wal-Mart has invested heavily in e-commerce in recent years. E-commerce sales surged 63 per cent and merchandise volume saw a 69 per cent jump in the first quarter.

However, company officials say e-commerce is still a relatively small part of overall sales.