Nation & World

Walmart to begin direct-to-fridge delivery

Service to begin this fall in three cities

Walmart/TNS

Walmart InHome grocery delivery service will begin in fall this year.
Walmart/TNS Walmart InHome grocery delivery service will begin in fall this year.

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Walmart is ready to deliver groceries straight to your refrigerator or kitchen counter.

After a six-month test in New Jersey, Walmart U.S. e-commerce CEO Marc Lore said the retailer now understands the level of trust customers need to let a stranger into their homes.

The InHome service will begin this fall, reaching a combined one million households in Pittsburgh; Kansas City, Mo.; and Vero Beach, Fla.

Walmart already has the infrastructure in more than 3,000 stores to fill online orders both for curbside and delivery, so taking an additional step inside the home is doable, Lore said.

“From a cost perspective, it’s not that different for us,” he said. “But it’s a huge additional value for the customer.”

Bart Stein, CEO of the Walmart InHome project, said the test included customers who were both skeptics and believers in the concept.

People want Walmart employees making the deliveries, the company said. So the service will be carried out by employees who have been with the company at least a year.

They will make the deliveries in Walmart-owned cars.

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Employees will wear a camera that records their visit into the house. Customers can watch it live on their phones or later.

If the camera isn’t turned on, access is denied.

Walmart didn’t release information yet on the smart locks that would allow its employees into a house or garage.

Every visit will have a one-time code, the retailer said. Stein’s team created the technology in-house, but there will be partners announced later.

Pricing still is being worked out.

In the test, skeptics were converted into believers, Stein said.

Lore and Stein announced the details Thursday to reporters in Bentonville, Ark., for the company’s annual meeting.

Lore likened the service’s trust hurdle to the Airbnb experience. Before the home sharing service became popular, he said, he wouldn’t have been comfortable letting “a stranger sleep in my bedroom.”

The business model also is similar to a service provided in the 1950s and 60s in which delivery staff — milkmen — entered customers’ homes and put milk and other dairy products directly into the refrigerators.

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