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Walmart testing ‘direct-to-fridge’ delivery

Partnership with Deliv, August Home providing tech-enabled service

The rise of “smart” home accessories is providing Wal-Mart Stores the opportunity to test another novel online order fulfillment strategy. 

The company said this week that a small group of Silicon Valley customers whose homes are outfitted with August Lock’s internet-enabled “smart locks” have opted in to receive unattended delivery of Walmart orders directly inside their homes – including some that authorize the delivery driver to unload fresh groceries directory to their refrigerator.

Fulfillment in these shopping trips is provided by Deliv, which is also partnering for delivery for Walmart’s Sam’s Club stores in Miami. 

Orders fulfilled this way would provide the delivery driver with a one-time code to unlock the door at customer’s homes when the delivery arrives. The shopper at the same time would receive an alert from August Home and those with associated in-home security cameras could watch the delivery in real time.

“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,” Sloan Eddleston, VP of Walmart ecommerce strategy and business operations, said in a blog post Thursday.

In addition to saving customers the task of unloading their groceries and planning time at home around a delivery, “it makes the unexpected easier, too,” Eddleston said. “Imagine planning a last-minute get-together and having everything you need to entertain already waiting for you inside your fridge. Or maybe you think during lunch at work that you’d like to surprise your spouse by making dinner, but don’t have time to run to the store. In the future, you could order on and start cooking minutes after you walk through the door.”

Walmart did not disclose a delivery charge for the service. It noted that customers in the test group have “opted-in” to the service through August Home, indicating an appropriate service charge is one of the things being tested. 

Walmart is utilizing technology to explore a variety of fulfillment strategies ranging from high-service options to process- and cost-focused strategies such as the test of store employee delivery announced earlier this year. 

“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,” Eddleston wrote. “The possibilities are endless, and we look forward to exploring how we can further serve our customers’ needs.”

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