The Walmart + home screen on a laptop placed in the Brooklyn borough in New York, United States on Wednesday, November 18, 2020.
Gabby Jones | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Walmart is already bringing groceries to customers’ doors and putting them straight in the fridge in some cities. The company announced Tuesday that it will soon be testing another hands-on approach: deliveries to a smart cooler on customer porches or near their front door.
Starting earlier this spring, the big box dealer announced that it would be launching a pilot in its hometown of Bentonville, Arkansas. The participating customers receive a temperature-controlled smart cooler called HomeValet. The cooler is placed outside of the house so that safe and contactless food deliveries are possible around the clock.
“The prospect for this technology is fascinating for both customers and Walmart’s last mile delivery efforts,” said Tom Ward, senior vice president of customer products for Walmart US, in a post on the company’s website. “Customers don’t have to schedule their day to have their groceries delivered. Walmart has the ability to deliver items 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
However, he said the retailer has no plans for 24/7 deliveries.
Walmart is testing the delivery of groceries to a HomeValet, a smart cooler that is placed outside of customers’ homes.
Walmart is the largest grocer in the United States and has made free unlimited grocery deliveries a key benefit of its new subscription-based service, Walmart +. The service started in September costs $ 98 per year or $ 12.95 per month compared to Amazon Prime which costs $ 119 per year or $ 12.99 per month. It includes other benefits such as: B. Fuel discounts and access to a smartphone app that allows buyers to skip the checkout.
The retail giant launched its grocery delivery service in 2018. During the Covid-19 pandemic, Walmart and other retailers have noticed that online grocery shopping is becoming increasingly popular. Customers are looking for convenient and contactless ways to store their pantries and refrigerators, from home deliveries to services like Instacart to roadside pickup outside of a retail store.
Even before the global health crisis, Walmart was experimenting with new food delivery options. In 2019, a membership program called InHome Grocery Delivery was launched in select cities, which brings fresh fruit, meat and other groceries straight to customers’ fridges for $ 19.95 per month. It requires additional security measures, including a smart door lock kit or smart garage door kit in buyers’ homes, as well as a background check and additional training for employees.
The service continues to operate in select cities: Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Vero Beach, Florida and West Palm Beach, Florida. During the pandemic, the company changed its approach to accommodate local restrictions, a company spokeswoman said: It only delivers in the Pittsburgh kitchen. In the other cities, objects are placed directly in the door of houses or in garages.
With the new HomeValet pilot, food is left in rectangular coolers developed by a start-up. You have three zones in which food can be kept at different temperatures – frozen, refrigerated or kept at room temperature like in a pantry. To make a delivery, a Walmart employee can lock and unlock the Smart Cooler with a device.