Walmart is testing a new way to deliver groceries to shoppers.
This spring, customers in Bentonville, AR, will be able to have groceries from their local Walmart store delivered into a temperature-controlled HomeValet-powered smart box placed outside their home.
The goal is to make it easier for customers to schedule delivery, as they won’t need to be home to receive their products in order to keep them fresh.
HomeValet’s smart box is powered by an internet of things (IoT) platform that has three temperature-controlled zones, so it can properly store frozen, refrigerated and pantry items. And when it’s time for a delivery to be made, the smart box communicates with the delivery provider’s device, giving them secure access to the smart box to complete the delivery.
There’s no cost to customers for the pilot, a Walmart spokesperson told RIS. Walmart will conduct outreach to current delivery customers in Bentonville to learn of their interest in participating.
The pilot is a departure from Walmart’s InHome Delivery service, in which delivery drivers must access a customer’s home or garage to deposit groceries directly into refrigerators. Left on customers’ porches, the smart box doesn’t require home entry.
“The prospect of this technology is intriguing, both for customers and for Walmart’s last mile delivery efforts,” said Tom Ward, SVP of customer product, Walmart U.S. “For customers, they don’t need to plan their day around when their grocery delivery will be made. For Walmart, it presents an opportunity to deliver items 24 hours a day, seven days a week. While we don’t have plans to do 24/7 delivery today, it certainly has a nice ring to it.
“If there’s one thing we know about our customers, it’s that they’re busier than ever. Our pilot with HomeValet is one of many solutions we’re testing that can make their days more manageable. After all, delivery should fit within their lifestyle, not the other way around.”
Janey Whiteside, Walmart’s chief customer officer, talked about in-home grocery delivery at NRF 2021, noting that when she talks to people about in-home service you get two reactions, either “I’d love that,” or “no way.”
“If you can establish that level of trust, the upside of time, effort, cognitive load, focus…” coming home from work and the groceries are in the fridge, it’s so appealing… “once you try it once, and it works, we’re seeing people get hooked on the service.”
It seems Walmart is taking a step back to test see if shoppers will more readily adapt a service that remains just outside their doorsteps.
Whiteside noted during the presentation that Walmart has exciting things “in the hopper,” but she said the retailer needs to listen and be sure that these are the things the customer wants.