It is well documented that Walmart is in a tooth and nail fight with Amazon for the hearts, minds and wallets of online shoppers. A year or two ago it could be said with upmost confidence that Amazon was way out in front of Walmart in terms of technology and online experience, but the same cannot be said today.
Walmart is investing heavily in its digital capabilities with cutting-edge advancements in online ordering, in-store pickup, conversational commerce, grocery ATMs, just to name a few. But not every new deployment is a guaranteed home run. There will be some risky choices along the way. But as any successful innovator will tell you the best thing you can do is fail fast and learn from you missteps.
Walmart’s recently announced home delivery pilot is clearly not for everyone, but it could appeal to a niche segment of Walmart’s shoppers. Or it could fade into background and be relegated to a nice idea whose time has yet to come.
The new home delivery pilot not only brings groceries to the customer’s doorstep, but into their fridge as well. Delivery drivers will carry the orders into a shopper’s home and actually place them into their refrigerator ― eliminating the chore of grocery shopping for the consumer.
But here is the kicker ― the delivery driver will be able to enter the customer’s home and place their grocery order into their fridge even when they aren’t there.
Thanks to a partnership with smart lock manufacturer August Home delivery drivers can input a one-time use code into the customer’s lock and gain entrance into their homes. The opt-in service could be appealing to the do-it-for-me crowd, but it is unlikely to gain wide-scale acceptance ― at least at launch.
“These tests are a natural evolution of what Walmart is all about ― an obsession in saving our customers not just money but also time, making our customers’ lives easier in the process,” the retailer said on its blog. “What might seem novel today could be the standard tomorrow. 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.”
Currently the service is being tested in Silicon Valley and could gain some traction among the tech savvy, do-it-for-me residents of the city. But will the service succeed in every market? That seems unlikely. While a delivery driver walking your groceries into your home and placing them in your fridge adds a quant old-school approach to e-commerce fulfillment ― doing it while the customer is not home adds a level of uncertainty that will likely be uneasy for many shoppers.
Will Walmart’s new service be a boon or a bust? Only time will tell. One thing is certain, however, the retailing behemoth is not sitting in the dugout while rival Amazon takes the field. Walmart is at the plate swinging for the fences.