Walmart debuts store-to-fridge fresh food delivery service

Discussion
Photo: Walmart
Jun 10, 2019
Tom Ryan

Walmart’s new service, InHome Delivery, delivers fresh groceries directly into refrigerators within shoppers’ homes and garages.

Customers place a grocery order online, select InHome Delivery and pick a delivery time. The homeowner gets an alert when the delivery person is near their house and is able to watch the delivery live or view it later. Walmart wrote on the InHome Delivery’s microsite, “You’ll be able to see the whole process, from the opening of your door, to the stocking of your fridge and every step in between, until our associate leaves and locks up.”

InHome Delivery Customer Watching Live Stream of Associate Stocking the Fridge – Source: Walmart

InHome works similarly to the Amazon Key delivery service. Among the differences:

  • Amazon Key requires that homeowners purchase an indoor security camera and a compatible smart lock. Homeowners grant temporary access to delivery couriers, guests or non-Amazon services such as dry cleaners and dog walkers. Customers using Walmart’s InHome must have the company install a smart lock on the outside of their home or garage, and the device specifically supports the retailer’s delivery service. Walmart’s delivery people gain one-time access.
  • Amazon Key couriers drop off the packages inside to avoid items getting stolen. Walmart InHome Delivery is tailored for fresh grocery items, with deliveries landing in the fridge.
  • Couriers using Amazon Key’s system may be from third-party delivery services. Walmart InHome Delivery couriers are exclusively Walmart employees who are required to have worked at the local Walmart for at least a year to be eligible for the job, which becomes the employees’ main responsibility. In a blog entry, Marc Lore, president and CEO, Walmart e-commerce U.S., said the couriers “go through an extensive training program which prepares them to enter customers’ homes with the same care and respect with which they would treat a friend’s or family’s home — not to mention how to select the freshest grocery items and organize the most efficient refrigerator.”

Customers will eventually be able to leave items on the counter to be returned.

The service is being tested this fall in three cities: Kansas City, MO, Pittsburgh and Vero Beach, FL. Pricing will be provided closer to launch.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What do you think of the potential of Walmart’s InHome Delivery service? Do you see it giving Walmart an advantage over Amazon in their competition for the grocery home delivery market?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"Seems like they’ve considered lots of options and are really trying to set customers at ease, but all it takes is one bad headline and the brand is tarnished."
"In addition to all the other comments regarding obstacles to this service, what to do with the dog?"
"This isn’t a matter of acceptance in 3 to 5 years. Something like this will take 10 to 15 years. It will largely be driven by younger people who accept systems and technology."

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32 Comments on "Walmart debuts store-to-fridge fresh food delivery service"


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Shep Hyken
BrainTrust

I’ve been saying this for the last year … convenience is king! If the retailer (in this case Walmart) can get the food all the way to the fridge/freezer, the it’s that much more convenient for the customer. There is another level. At one point do the Walmart employees (or any other retailer’s employees) cook the food?!

Paula Rosenblum
BrainTrust

They call that Uber Eats! Or Door Dash.

Paula Rosenblum
BrainTrust

I can’t decide which has the most possibilities for disaster — in-home grocery delivery or drone delivery. I think both should be scrapped as concepts.

In the first dot-com boom a company (I think its name was Streamline) would put a fridge in shoppers garages and leave the groceries there. They failed. It was hard to make money. This seems like a challenge to profitability on a good day, and an opportunity for lawsuits on bad days.

This little war between Amazon and Walmart is starting to feel like the milk and bread wars of the 1950s … a race to the death.

George Anderson
Staff

We were Streamline customers back then and had an outdoor refrigerator on our screened-in porch. Loved the service, yet always wondered how they would financially account for the refrigerators. As it turned out, they didn’t. At least we got a free fridge out of the deal when all was said and done.

Paula Rosenblum
BrainTrust

They never took it back? That’s amazing.

Lee Kent
BrainTrust

And Paula, is the Walmart customer really the right audience for this? Are they typically tech savvy therefore tech trusting? For high-end clientele somewhere who may already have servant(s) in the home, I can see this as having a niche. For Walmart? Maybe not so much. But that’s just my 2 cents. We shop at Walmart for a few things so don’t get me wrong. Just sayin’.

Bob Amster
BrainTrust

The concept of delivery-to-fridge has limited potential. Some consumers will welcome it and some will never go for it. We are familiar with some service people, whom we use often, and who we would trust inside our home alone. It would take a long time for many consumers to feel so confident about an unknown delivery person.

Phil Masiello
BrainTrust

The obstacle has always been trust with these services. You can go back to the ’90s with a startup called Streamline, which provided the refrigerators and placed them in garages so they did not need to enter the house. It was never able to scale because of trust. Consumers don’t like having people they do not know walking around their property when they are not there. It is not about the delivery person doing something unethical at the time of delivery. It is about visually scanning the home for some future endeavor.

Regardless of the video security and smart locks, these services are still struggling. However, I do believe that Amazon will be able to penetrate this market faster and more securely than Walmart. Amazon has the trust of the consumer regardless of the third party delivery or direct employees. Customers trust Amazon to deliver their purchases above the USPS, Fedex and UPS.

Cathy Hotka
BrainTrust

Delivery into the kitchen sounds downright perilous in some cases. Each one of us knows a house in the neighborhood that we wouldn’t enter on a bet. All the training in the world won’t prepare these couriers for some of the things they’ll see. My brother lives in a lovely neighborhood in a historical district, but his next door neighbor is a hoarder who owns a 6-foot python. In-fridge delivery sounds like the next step on the road to customer-centricity, but dangers lurk.

Brandon Rael
BrainTrust

While these are right moves strategically for Walmart and Amazon, there are certain lines that we simply won’t cross. I am all for efficiency and helping to mitigate the last mile. However, there is no chance most people would allow this. If this helps to make the delivery process faster, a locker or storage outside of your residence solves the last step of the journey. 

With that said, the home delivery segment has grown significantly in cosmopolitan cities, particularly NYC, where there is a thriving home delivery industry already. The home delivery grocery services will resonate in larger cities, especially where most folks are dependent on mass transit, and do not own cars.

Luxury apartments in NYC already a concierge like experience, and what Amazon and Walmart are offering is a natural extension to this.

Chris Petersen, PhD.
BrainTrust

The race for the last mile has become one of feet and inches. The need for speed has become a race for offering the ultimate convenience. It almost seems like a game of innovation who can top who. While all delivery choices are nice, nothing beats reliability. Amazon Prime has missed my last 4 delivery dates — one by well over a week! I will take on-time delivery as promised over someone stocking my fridge.

Georganne Bender
BrainTrust

As a consumer, I have to really trust someone to let them into my home, and that’s while I’m there. But to let random people into my house, cabinets and refrigerator when I’m not? No. Just NO.

Brandon Rael
BrainTrust

Ditto!

Laura Davis-Taylor
BrainTrust

I’m with these guys. I live one mile from a Walmart in Atlanta and there’s not enough need in the world to drive me to let one of their employees into my home. I have no doubt that it would get cased for a home invasion. This is all about brand trust and that starts with current channel experiences — and it takes a lot of it to garner sharing the security code to your front door.

Georganne Bender
BrainTrust

Can you imagine the safety checks Walmart will have to do on those employees? CIA background check worthy, that’s for sure!

Michael La Kier
BrainTrust

The Walmart program is either the key to unlocking the next great wave of e-commerce sales or it’s an unwelcome (home) invasion of privacy. Or, it’s both. For harried families who never have time for errands, this can be a game changer. For some, this is a waste and they would never have another pick out their produce and meat. Regardless this program doubles down on the Walmart strategy that the store — and now associates — are the secret weapon in the battle versus Amazon.

David Weinand
BrainTrust

Early days. This service will have a very limited adoption since it requires installation of locks, etc. and that is a big ask in the name of convenience. I believe this is more of a PR exercise vs. revenue and business driver.

David Dorf
BrainTrust

Seems like they’ve considered lots of options and are really trying to set customers at ease, but all it takes is one bad headline and the brand is tarnished. I doubt this take hold long-term.

Rich Kizer
BrainTrust

It sounds so right, but it FEELS so wrong. Nope! It’s not for me, and I dare say, many will echo my sentiment.

Cynthia Holcomb
BrainTrust

Crazy times! Has Walmart lost its mind? Ok, maybe a few people out of millions have no issue with random people entering their home. The opportunity for misbehavior is rife. Crimes of opportunity. Good media PR sound bites, though.

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

This isn’t a matter of acceptance in 3 to 5 years. Something like this will take 10 to 15 years. It will largely be driven by younger people who accept system and technology. Today we are concerned about security of our home, but we can’t even comprehend what the security technology will be like in 15 years. Look at the speed of technology advancement in the last 15 years and now double that speed.

Combine this idea with the demonstration at the Samsung Experience where the technology monitors your refrigerator, including produce, determines what you use and need, orders automatically. Now add that you come home from work and the refrigerator is full and you don’t even have to think about anything.

Fredrik Carlegren
BrainTrust

I have to believe this has very little to do with direct access to my refrigerator, and much more to do with brand awareness for a retailer obsessed with delivering ultimate convenience to consumers. I hope so anyway. As a result, I suspect this specific initiative will have limited success … unless of course they’ll clean the fridge while there (and throw away my week old leftovers). I can dream.

John Karolefski
BrainTrust

So, grocery delivery to your fridge is the next step for in the ever-ending drive for the most convenience with online ordering and delivery. What’s next? The delivery person prepares a meal and washes the dishes? Can sleep-overs be far behind with pancakes for breakfast and taking out the trash?

Tony Orlando
BrainTrust

Thanks for throwing the obvious humor into this. Retail grocery is beyond insane, as consumers’ demands far exceed profitability for all who are involved. I do home catering, where I drop off the food and provide staff to monitor the party, which includes cleaning the kitchen, taking out trash, and helping the clients with anything reasonable to make the party perfect. We charge for this, but some folks appreciate the help to make it work for their guests — but nothing creepy going on, just sayin’.

Dr. Stephen Needel
BrainTrust

I’m a big Walmart fan — but not this big. Can’t decide if it’s a little creepy or a lot creepy. But I’ll look differently at the Walmart team, later today when I go there, wondering who I’d let in my house.

Tony Orlando
BrainTrust

No one would ever be allowed in my house except my two sons. This concept is fine for those who want it, but the majority of folks will pass. Same day delivery will be very costly, and the race to own the world is on in retail. I’ll be very glad when I step down from my business, as insanity is the mantra today. I see more small town grocers leaving as well, since it gets very difficult to do business with these hurdles today. Old fashioned dinosaurs are still around, and I wish them well, as our fraternity is losing members every year.

Zel Bianco
BrainTrust

In addition to all the other comments regarding obstacles to this service, what to do with the dog? Do you have your dog sitting in a crate all day? I don’t think so. How do you train for that?

Ricardo Belmar
BrainTrust
I view this more as how well Walmart has learned from the Amazon PR machine than as an outstanding initiative on its own. Not to be outdone by Amazon Key initiatives or Amazon delivering to the trunk of your car, now Walmart announces delivery straight to your refrigerator! Had we all not been so well trained by the Amazon PR engine, I suspect we’d think this was an April Fool’s joke! How many customers will readily accept letting a Walmart employee into their home, into their kitchen, and into their fridge? Have we ever heard any stats from Amazon on how many customers use their Key services? I suspect not many. This comes down to trust, and not just brand trust, but the trust of who you are letting into your home when you’re away. Apart from possibly disabled consumers who might view this as a needed helping hand, and in the future, younger home dwellers who willingly give their trust to almost anyone, I don’t see this as much more than PR fodder. There… Read more »
Shikha Jain
Guest

Convenience comes at a premium … until it doesn’t. And the key is in the logistics and systems. With Amazon’s home delivery, the big challenge has been substitution because of stock outs especially in produce. To fully monetize on the customized convenience, there needs to be a seamless and integrated back end to support the front end.

Ananda Chakravarty
BrainTrust

This is not about changing customer behavior as it is about giving customers the convenience they want. As with all tests, it’s a combination of PR, some early data gathered showing promise, and a desire to test the market. In the end, the consumer will decide on acceptable levels of home engagement.

For Walmart, there may actually be a segment of customers that this type of service is a good fit — think college dorms or short term apartment rentals in high density metro areas. And if the size of the market is large enough, there might be money to be made.

Whatever the reasoning, we sometimes forget convenience is the customer’s choice, and there are so many types of customers. This is just another offering in the mix trying to capture customer attention and loyalty. The whole point for WMT and AMZN is to capture as broad a market as possible, which means as broad a set of experiences as possible.

Ken Morris
BrainTrust

Home delivery of groceries seems like great idea, but grocers have not perfected this service. While it appears to be a convenience consumers would appreciate, the obstacles are much greater for groceries than other general merchandise products.

For home delivery of frozen or refrigerated groceries, it requires the consumer to be home or have a refrigerator/freezer with outdoor access. The in-home delivery of groceries requires special security features and has the added challenge of overcoming consumers’ trust of a “stranger” entering their home. These are great challenges the will make the adoption of Walmart’s InHome Delivery service a slow process.

From a traditional home grocery delivery perspective, Walmart may have an advantage over Amazon, as it has the benefit of a large number of stores within close proximity to customers with over 90% of the US population within a 10 mile radius of a Walmart store.

Oliver Guy
BrainTrust

This could well be a point of differentiation … but it is something that shows customers trust a given brand. This is something that was discussed extensively when Waitrose in the UK started trailing something similar.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Seems like they’ve considered lots of options and are really trying to set customers at ease, but all it takes is one bad headline and the brand is tarnished."
"In addition to all the other comments regarding obstacles to this service, what to do with the dog?"
"This isn’t a matter of acceptance in 3 to 5 years. Something like this will take 10 to 15 years. It will largely be driven by younger people who accept systems and technology."

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