Forget Drones—Walmart Sets Its Sights on Customers’ Kitchens

Suddenly even one-day shipping seems unimpressive

Walmart tells customers to relax while it not only delivers their orders but puts them away, too.
Walmart

Walmart is giving in-home grocery delivery another shot in three new markets—including Kansas City, Mo., Pittsburgh, Pa., Vero Beach, Fla. and “more great cities coming soon.”

It follows a 2017 pilot in Silicon Valley with smart-home access company August Home and last-mile delivery company Deliv, which also ferried groceries into participants’ homes—and perishables into their refrigerators.

This time around, instead of limiting the service to consumers with smart homes from specific providers and relying on third-party delivery personnel, Walmart is tapping into its own resources.

That includes associates who have been with a store for at least a year and go through “an extensive training program which prepares them to enter customers’ homes with the same care and respect with which they would treat a friend’s or family’s home—not to mention how to select the freshest grocery items and organize the most efficient refrigerator,” as well as “smart entry technology and a proprietary, wearable camera to access the customer’s home.”

Homeowners choose between front door and garage entry and “the appropriate smart device enables the delivery associate to gain one-time access, during the time of delivery.”

The FAQs on the in-home delivery site say goods will be priced the same as they are in-store, but Walmart has not yet specified the cost for in-home delivery.

“We’ll be excited to share more information about price closer to launch in the fall,” the retailer added.

And, later this year, the in-home service will also accept returns for online orders, wrote Marc Lore, president and CEO of Walmart ecommerce U.S. in a blog post.

“Our mission is to help you remove chores, like grocery shopping, from your to-do list, so you have more time for yourself, family and friends,” Walmart stated.

This yields what Walmart called “Fridgetopia,” or “the feeling your refrigerator gets when it’s stocked with everything you need.”

Lore delivered a speech at Walmart’s 2019 Associate and Shareholder Meeting on Friday, highlighting innovations like in-home delivery, which included a cameo by actress Sofia Vergara, who plugged the new summer collection of her Walmart-exclusive clothing line.

It once again goes to show the lengths retailers are willing to venture to appeal to consumers.

Walmart and Amazon announced free one-day delivery just about a month ago, which now seems slow. Amazon followed with promises of drone delivery in half an hour for smaller orders.

And while consumers are willing to trade at least some privacy for convenience, such as in-car delivery from Volvo and Audi—it’s unclear if shoppers have warmed to the idea of strangers in their homes, even if they can watch remotely. Amazon added in-garage delivery as an additional option earlier this year—about 18 months after enabling the first in-home deliveries of its own.

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