By Nandita Bose
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (Reuters) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc <WMT.N> is testing a program that allows store workers to deliver packages ordered on the store's website after they finish their shifts, as the retailer looks for ways to close the gap with rival Amazon.com Inc <AMZN.O>.
Marc Lore, head of Wal-Mart's e-commerce operations, said in a blog post on Thursday the step will cut shipping costs, speed the delivery of packages and allow workers to earn additional compensation.
Wal-Mart's stores are within 10 miles (16 km) of 90 percent of the U.S. population, Lore said. "Imagine all the routes our associates drive to and fro from work and the houses they pass along the way. It's easy to see why this test could be a game changer," he said.
Since he joined in August, Lore has helped spearhead some aggressive moves intended to boost the retailer's online business. Wal-Mart completed its $3 billion acquisition of Lore's former company, internet retailer Jet.com, in September.
Lore has overseen Wal-Mart's acquisitions of three online retailers and made other e-commerce changes. Wal-Mart now offers free two-day shipping on online orders above $35, without any membership fees, to compete with Amazon's popular Prime shipping program.
Wal-Mart said on Thursday its trucks deliver packages to a retail location for store pickup and the same trucks can bring additional orders a worker can sign up to deliver.
The delivery program is voluntary for store workers and allows them to sign up for a maximum of 10 deliveries a day. The retailer did not share details on compensation of workers who sign up.
The test is limited to three stores in New Jersey and Arkansas. Wal-Mart will hold its annual shareholder meeting on Friday in Arkansas.
(This version of the story has been refiled to remove extraneous words in paragraph 3)
(Editing by Matthew Lewis)