September 26, 2017
Walmart’s new grocery delivery program could give it a huge edge in the online ordering game. The discount giant is testing a concept that will not only deliver fresh groceries, but also enable a delivery person to enter customers’ homes and put away perishables in their refrigerator.
Walmart, which announced the news in a blog on its website, is partnering with August Home, a smart locks and smart home accessories provider, and same-day delivery company Deliv, to test the service. Here’s how it works: Customers place their order online, and when the order is ready, a Deliv driver delivers it to the shopper’s home. If no one answers the doorbell, the driver enters a pre-authorized one-time passcode into a smart lock keypad installed beside the door. Customers receive a smartphone notification that the delivery is occurring, and they can monitor the delivery through home security cameras integrated with the August security app. Non-perishable items are left in the foyer, and fresh merchandise is placed into the shopper’s fridge. Once the Deliv associate leaves, the customer receives a notification confirming the delivery is complete and the door was automatically locked. The concept is being tested among a handful of August Home customers in Silicon Valley.
“We want to do more in the future by delivering groceries and other orders in whatever location works best for our customers—inside the house for some and in the fridge/freezer in the garage for others,” Sloan Eddleston, VP, Walmart e-commerce strategy and business operations, said in the blog. “What might seem novel today could be the standard tomorrow,” she added. “This may not be for everyone—and certainly not right away—but we want to offer customers the opportunity to participate in tests today, and help us shape what commerce will look like in the future.”
The program rivals similar services that use lockers as delivery drop-off destinations, such as those offered by Amazon. To expand its breadth among more shoppers, the online giant also recently launched The Hub by Amazon, a delivery locker system designed for apartment blocks and other housing complexes that may not have services to accept or store packages. Jet.com, Walmart’s e-commerce operation launched a similar program through a partnership with Latch, a provider of smart building access technologies. The program enables participating residents to use their smartphone as a “remote key” to grant access to delivery companies dropping off packages, even if they are not home. The program is in 1,000 buildings in New York City. However, neither Amazon nor Jet’s programs are equipped to store fresh merchandise.
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