Walmart is partnering with Deliv and a "smart locks" company to test a new service that would deliver food products inside customers' homes and refrigerators even when they are not home, the retail giant said in a press release emailed to Retail Dive.
Customers who order groceries can request that delivery people put their fresh and frozen items away in their refrigerators and freezers, according to Ravi Jariwala, senior director of public relations at Walmart. Those participating in the test are able to watch the full delivery process on their smartphone through an app and home security cameras, he said.
The experiment, which will test various price points, is by invitation only for existing customers of August Home, a keyless lock designer, in Silicon Valley in California who opt in, Jariwala said.
This is not the first announcement of late that Walmart has opened with a lament about the hectic pace of daily life.
Sloan Eddleston, Vice President, Walmart eCommerce Strategy & Business Operations, said Friday in a blog post: "Shopping for groceries can be a hassle for my busy family. We need to make the time to go to the store, make sure we find everything on our list (and a few things that likely weren’t), lug them home and then put them away."
That led Walmart to devise a plan to allow customers to order their groceries online, have them delivered by crowd-sourced delivery company Deliv — and then have them put away. "When I enter my house later that day, it’s like magic — the items I purchased from Walmart.com are waiting for me, and my groceries are nice and cool in the fridge, as if they never left their display in the store," Eddleston writes.
It does sound like a dream, but it also sounds expensive. The service will need to be adequately paid for by those who sign up for it, making it a premium service that is generally outside of Walmart’s traditional consumer base. August Home’s smart locks, cameras and keypads themselves range in price from $79 to $279. (Eddleston said that this level of service "may not be for everyone" and noted that Walmart isn’t offering it widely "right away.")
Conversely, if Walmart subsidizes it on any level, that could hit margins hard. It’s an issue in e-commerce in general that has yet to be fully grappled with, according to retail analyst Nick Egelanian, president of retail development consultants SiteWorks International.
"When shipping costs are fully allocated to the consumer some time in the future, we will see the rate of internet sales growth sharply decline," he said in an email to Retail Dive earlier this year. The experiment with August Home comes weeks after Walmart-owned Jet began installing "smart locks" from Latch in 1,000 apartment buildings in New York City to smooth last-mile delivery in apartment buildings there.