Walmart has filed a patent application for a system that would allow customers to view individual fresh items remotely before purchasing them.
The patent was filed last year and was recently published, as reported by data and analytics firm CB Insights.
The “Fresh Online Experience,” or FOE, would allow customers to order produce, meat and bakery items online using stock photos, but then have the opportunity to approve the actual items being purchased via image scans (either two- or three-dimensional) sent to them by Walmart store workers. Once an item is approved by the customer, an “edible watermark” could be applied to the item before it was packaged for pickup or delivery to verify that it was the item the shopper had selected.
“The Fresh Online Experience … may facilitate customers' ability to visually verify the exact fresh item they will be receiving,” the patent application states.
The system could also be automated to reduce the involvement of store personnel, according to the filing.
The invention seemingly seeks to overcome one of the barriers to online grocery ordering by giving consumers more control over the fresh items they select.
The patent application is one of several that Walmart has filed related to e-commerce. Last year, the company filed an application for a patent on a blimp-style drone for delivery, and another for a mini-store build into consumers’ homes that could be stocked from outside by Walmart delivery workers and accessed by shoppers inside the home.