Walmart opens 'in-fridge delivery' trial in Silicon Valley

The program is in partnership with August Home, makers of IoT tech like smart locks and smart home accessories, as well as delivery startup Deliv.
Written by Natalie Gagliordi, Contributor

Walmart said on Friday that it's testing a service in Silicon Valley that delivers online grocery orders right to a customer's refrigerator.

The program is in partnership with August Home, makers of IoT tech like smart locks and smart home accessories, as well as delivery startup Deliv.

The gist is that online grocery orders are delivered by a Deliv worker who then enters a person's home via a pre-authorized, one-time passcode on the August Home smart lock. From there, the Deliv employee puts all the groceries away under the remote video surveillance of the homeowner.

"Think about that -- someone else does the shopping for you AND puts it all away," Sloan Eddleston, Walmart's vice president of ecommerce strategy and business operations, wrote in a blog post Friday.

The service is bizarre, to say the least, but it's worth commending the retail giant for progressive thinking. This isn't a service that will appeal to the masses, nor is it realistically capable of scaling. In its current iteration, it's catered only to early adopters of smart home technology -- which makes it fitting for Silicon Valley but less so for the average Walmart shopper in suburban America.

Instead, Walmart looks to be assembling a broad range of delivery options that cater to specific markets.

For instance, the retail giant has an ongoing pilot where store associates deliver ecommerce orders on their way home from work. Earlier this year, Walmart submitted a patent application for a drone delivery system that focuses on how packages are received.

Walmart also recently expanded its grocery delivery program in partnership with Uber. The two companies first teamed up a year ago with a pilot program that also included Lyft and Deliv. With each experiment, Walmart is refining its customer experience strategy while also cutting shipping costs, boosting efficiency, and improving delivery times as it competes with ecommerce giant Amazon.

But grocery is one category where Walmart has an edge over Amazon, and the discount retail giant is aiming to ride that advantage as long as it can. Grocery made up 26 percent of Walmart's US ecommerce sales for its second quarter.

"What might seem novel today could be the standard tomorrow," Eddleston said. "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."


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