Walmart is taking control of their supply chain through a pilot program in which the $500 billion retailer uses name-brand freight containers designed in-house.
The pilot is only in Southern California. That cuts out third-party rail companies and allows Walmart to place its freight directly on trains without middleman fees. It’s an unusual move for a non-transport company to do rail transport without a middleman, but it shows how hands-on retailers are getting with their supply chains. Usually, the companies printed on cargo containers aren’t household names — it’s more typical to see companies such as CSX, BNSF, and so on printed on freight trains as they whoosh by.
But there’s a much more recognizable brand that’s making its own push into intermodal (or train) containers: Walmart.
Since summer 2018, the $500 billion retailer has been piloting a program in which it uses its own intermodal containers, instead of going through a third-party rail company or middleman, Supply Chain Dive first reported. Walmart truck drivers are also newly trucking those containers between the railway and Walmart facilities.
“When we give it to a third-party provider, we don’t necessarily have the control,” Ken Braunbach, vice president of inbound logistics at Walmart, told Business Insider. “We are at the third party’s discretion of how they operate and optimize our network — whereas we have that capability when we move it ourselves.”