Starting this fall, Walmart will push grocery delivery convenience to the next step: bringing the groceries inside shoppers’ homes. With InHome Delivery, shoppers can have items delivered even when they’re not at home, Marc Lore, President and CEO of Walmart eCommerce U.S., revealed in a blog post.
Walmart will first roll out the service across three cities: Pittsburgh; Kansas City, Mo.; and Vero Beach, Fla.The retail giant has been testing in-home delivery in New Jersey through its tech incubator, Store No. 8, according to CNBC.
To use the service, customers must have Walmart install a smart lock on the outside of their home or garage. Shoppers can place a grocery order online or on the Walmart app, and then select InHome Delivery and a delivery day at checkout. A Walmart associate then takes care of their grocery shopping before driving to their home. At the time of delivery, the associate will use smart entry technology and a proprietary, wearable camera to access the customer’s home — enabing customers to control access into their homes and watch the deliveries remotely via their mobile device.
The InHome Delivery service is similar to Key by Amazon, which combines Amazon’s in-home security “Cloud Cam” with smart lock technology to provide couriers with unattended access to Amazon Prime members’ homes. When couriers arrive with a package, they scan a barcode that sends a request to Amazon’s cloud. The cloud grants permission for entry by sending a message back to the camera, which then begins recording.
Both Walmart and Amazon continue to battle back and forth with delivery investments of their own, with both companies announcing that they were taking steps to fortify next-day delivery. But in-home delivery may be the most controversial fulfillment method from either company due to consumer security concerns. While consumers clearly want convenient delivery options, the idea of random couriers gaining access to homes while the owners aren’t there isn’t something that many people are clamoring for. With that in mind, delivery spending could end up turning into a money pit if demand doesn’t line up.
“What remains unclear for us is 1) how much could this cost to roll-out at scale, 2) how much demand will there ultimately be, and 3) how much are consumers willing to pay for the service,” said Charlie O’Shea, VP and Lead Retail Analyst at Moody’s in commentary provided to Retail TouchPoints. “We remain concerned that companies may end up overspending in their development of various delivery options by overestimating the potential demand, though that is a ‘down-the-road’ issue.”
Thus far, however, Walmart’s delivery direction has been proven to be extremely successful — especially now that the retailer is on track to offer Grocery Pickup from 3,100 stores and same-day Grocery Delivery from 1,600 stores by year-end. Consumers have been responding very favorably to the expansion; the portion of online grocery shoppers purchasing from Walmart.com grew to 37.4% this year from 25.5% in 2018, according to Coresight Research.