Walmart aims to expand online grocery delivery not just to more homes, but also inside them.
Marc Lore, president and CEO of Walmart eCommerce U.S., on Friday unveiled Walmart InHome Delivery, a new service launching this fall in which associates will deliver groceries right to a customer’s refrigerator.
InHome Delivery staff wear a camera that lets customers watch the delivery remotely.
Described by Lore as a “food aisle to fridge” service, Walmart InHome Delivery personnel will use smart-entry technology and a proprietary, wearable camera to enter a customer’s home. He noted that the digital home technology will enable customers to control access and view the deliveries remotely. Deliveries can be made to a customer’s refrigerator in the kitchen or elsewhere in the home, such as the garage. (Click here to watch a video of the InHome Delivery service.)
“Walmart InHome Delivery is a new service designed to help customers save time and offer yet another convenient choice for grocery shopping. The service does so by delivering groceries even when customers can’t be home,” Lore said in a blog post on Friday. “Customers place a grocery order and then select InHome Delivery and a delivery day at checkout. We take it from there. Customers can then go about their days while a Walmart associate takes care of their grocery shopping for them.”
Smart-entry technology allows InHome Delivery personnel to enter customers' homes.
Plans call for InHome Delivery to initially roll out to more than 1 million customers in Kansas City, Mo.; Pittsburgh; and Vero Beach, Fla.
Lore said InHome Delivery staff must complete an extensive training program that prepares them “to enter customers’ homes with the same care and respect with which they would treat a friend's or family’s home.” The training also includes instruction on how to select the freshest groceries and organize an efficient refrigerator.
To use the service, customers place a grocery order at Grocery.Walmart.com and then select “InHome Delivery” and a delivery day at checkout. They also designate a home entry point — either the front door or garage — with a smart device that allows the delivery person one-time access during the time of delivery. Customers don’t need to buy a security camera, Walmart noted. Delivery staff are equipped with a wearable camera that enables customers to watch the entire delivery in real time, from entry to the home to the stocking of their refrigerator to when the associate leaves and locks up.
Once done loading groceries into the refrigerator, associates also post a note signifying “Fridgetopia,” or that the order is complete and the fridge “stocked with everything you need,” Walmart said.
Walmart CEO Doug McMillon also introduced InHome Delivery on stage Friday at the company’s annual associate and shareholder event, calling the service “the next phase” of its grocery pickup and delivery expansion.
“We asked ourselves, what if we not only cover the last mile to customers’ homes but even the last few steps? What if we put their groceries away inside their kitchens or garages? And a step beyond that, what if they let us keep them replenished, keep them in stock, on the items they use all the time? After all, an empty fridge is a problem, especially if you have kids at home,” McMillon said at the event. “We’re excited to announce InHome Delivery will be available this fall to nearly 1 million customers across three cities: Kansas City, Pittsburgh and Vero Beach, Fla.
“We’ve tested this idea in a couple of places and here’s how it works,” he continued. “All deliveries are done by associates who have been with us for at least a year. The customer is notified when we arrive at their home. Customers can watch a live first-person view of their delivery or a recording of it later.”
Pricing for InHome Delivery will be disclosed prior to the service’s launch in the fall, according to Walmart. The company said groceries delivered via InHome will carry the same prices as those in a customer’s local Walmart store, and a specific smart lock for the service will be offered for purchase through Walmart.
Offerings like InHome Delivery that leverage Walmart’s stores and associates create opportunities for other services, Lore added. Later this year, for example, the InHome service will accept returns for items purchased on Walmart.com. Customers will leave the product in a designated place in their home, and the InHome Delivery associate will return the item for them.
“Part of our core e-commerce strategy is to innovate for the future and leverage our unique assets,” Lore said in the blog. “The technology powering InHome Delivery combines the power of our store footprint, store associates and world-class fresh supply chain. Now we can serve customers not just in the last mile, but in the last 15 feet.”
As of mid-May, Walmart offered free grocery pickup at 2,450 of its U.S. stores and same-day grocery delivery at nearly 1,000 stores. During fiscal 2019, Walmart had expanded online grocery delivery to approximately 800 stores and pickup to more than 2,100 stores in the United States.
“Online grocery remains a meaningful contributor to e-commerce growth,” Chief Financial Officer Brett Biggs said in a conference call on Walmart’s fiscal 2020 first-quarter results. “The U.S. business continues to benefit from a healthy economic environment, but we’re also pleased with customers’ response to our integrated omnichannel offering. Market-share gains this quarter in key grocery and general merchandise categories reflect our progress. Comp-sales growth reflects strength in grocery, including private brands.”
By the end of this year, Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart plans to expand same-day grocery delivery to 1,600 stores and grocery pickup to 3,100 stores. That will extend Walmart’s online grocery coverage of the U.S. population to 50% for same-day delivery and almost 80% for pickup.
“Customers continue to really appreciate our grocery pickup and delivery offerings as we scale them across the U.S.,” Biggs said in the call. “Customers want product faster than ever before, and Walmart is the best-positioned in the industry to deliver grocery same-day.”