RETAIL NEWS

Walmart piloting direct-to-fridge deliveries

BY Dan Berthiaume

Walmart is not sitting back idly while Amazon makes deliveries inside customers’ homes and garages.

This fall, Walmart will launch a pilot of InHome Delivery, a new service that brings grocery deliveries directly to a customer’s refrigerator when they are not home. Customers place an online grocery order and then select InHome Delivery and a delivery day at checkout.

A Walmart associate takes care of their grocery shopping for them, and at time of delivery, associates will use smart entry technology and a proprietary, wearable camera to enter the customer’s home. InHome Delivery associates will have their jobs focused on this service and go through an extensive training program that includes instruction on how to enter and treat a customer’s home, select the freshest grocery items and organize an efficient refrigerator.

Customers will control access into their homes and have the ability to watch deliveries remotely. Price for a fridge delivery has not yet been announced.

The service will kick off this fall for over 1 million customers in Kansas City; Pittsburgh; and Vero Beach, Florida. Later this year, InHome will also accept returns for items purchased on Walmart.com. Customers will be able to leave them on the counter and the delivery associate will return the items on their behalf.

Walmart is preparing direct-to-fridge deliveries in the wake of Amazon rolling out some of the main features of its “smart entry” program, Amazon Key, to Prime members nationwide. The program’s primary feature, in-home deliveries, uses a smart lock to allow Amazon to make deliveries inside a customer’s front door or garage. Entry and exit video clips that allow customers to view motion video clips of a person entering or leaving their home when the door is locked or unlocked. Currently, in-home deliveries are available in 37 select metro areas.

According to CNBC, Bart Stein, a Google and Yahoo veteran who serves as Walmart’s GM and VP of InHome Delivery, is overseeing the program and has been quietly piloting it in New Jersey. Walmart piloted a similar service in 2017 in partnership with smart lock company SmartHome, but is now using proprietary technology.

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