Will customers give Walmart the keys to their homes?

Discussion
Photo: Walmart
Oct 15, 2019
George Anderson

Walmart has announced that it is launching its InHome Delivery program in the Pittsburgh, Kansas City and Vero Beach markets. The service gives Walmart delivery people access to customers’ garages or homes where they will put refrigerated and frozen products away in refrigerators.

Customers participating in the program are required to purchase a smart door or garage lock kit for $49.95. Membership to the program is being billed at an introductory price of $19.95 a month for an unlimited number of deliveries. The new service is seen by many as Walmart’s answer to Amazon.com’s Key Service.

Delivery associates will use smart entry technology to enter the homes of customers. Their actions are tracked through wearable cameras. While Walmart typically uses third-party couriers to deliver groceries, only employees who have been with the company for a minimum of a year are eligible to participate in training to work in the InHome program.

“With InHome Delivery, we’re putting more well-deserved time in the hands of our customers,” wrote Bart Stein, SVP, membership and InHome, in a blog post on Walmart’s corporate site. “Take Laura, a mom of three in Kansas City with a full-time job as a graphic designer. Laura loves baking banana bread with her kids but doesn’t have enough time to shop for the ingredients after work and get it out of the oven before bedtime. Now, with InHome Delivery, Laura can order all the ingredients she needs and have them delivered directly into her fridge while she’s at work — no more late-night trips to the store or taking time out of Sunday afternoons with her family.”

Walmart, Mr. Stein told CNBC, intends to use learnings from the test markets “to grow and scale” the program on a national level.

InHome Delivery is the latest signal that Walmart intends to be aggressive in pushing what it sees as its grocery advantage. Last month, the chain announced the expansion of its Delivery Unlimited grocery subscription program to 1,400 stores across the U.S. Customers have the option of paying a yearly fee of $98 or $12.95 a month to entitle them to delivery of an unlimited number of grocery orders. Walmart expanded the program after conducting tests in Houston, Miami, Salt Lake City and Tampa earlier this year. 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What do you expect Walmart to learn in the three initial markets for InHome Delivery? Do you see large numbers of Americans participating in the program as Walmart rolls it out on a national basis?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"At the beginning adoption will certainly be minimal – but over time, convenience can open many refrigerator doors."
"I didn’t see it for Amazon, and I don’t see it as a big winner for Walmart. "
"Just another signpost on the road of crazy ideas. Three words: theft, breakage, Doberman."

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24 Comments on "Will customers give Walmart the keys to their homes?"


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Mark Ryski
BrainTrust

In-home delivery seems to be the next logistical step in grocery convenience, and all eyes will be on Walmart’s test. There’s no doubt that this service will resonate with some consumers. However, the real test will be 1.) how consumers in general take to the service and 2.) can it be delivered seamlessly and scaled profitably (or at least not too unprofitably). Ultimately, I think that the concerns about privacy and the creepiness of allowing strangers to enter your home will stunt adoption.

Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

Personally, I would not like someone to access my home in this way. Others will take the opposing view. The success of this scheme will depend on the balance between the two groups. The cost to Walmart will also be a factor in how far and fast this is rolled out. My analytical view is that this kind of service will grow, but will remain fairly niche over the medium-term.

Tony Orlando
BrainTrust

Many folks don’t even like talking to their neighbors anymore. I see this as a very small niche scenario, as I don’t want anyone in my home for this service, and my small sampling of folks who I talk with would not choose this option either. BOPIS is a yes for them. We’ll see how this new service gains traction.

Cathy Hotka
BrainTrust

Potential concerns about in-home delivery are almost too numerous to mention — liability, training, pets, etc. This idea sounds appealing but will likely be a rare money-loser for Walmart.

Harley Feldman
BrainTrust

Walmart will learn whether there is an interest in grocery delivery of items that need to be refrigerated or frozen, whether consumers will support the charges associated with the program, and whether Walmart can make a profit on this idea. Over time, with item delivery becoming part of consumers’ expectations, more Americans will sign up for this service.

Tony Orlando
BrainTrust

If consumers are willing to actually pay the real cost of refrigerated and frozen foods then yeah, I’m in. Until that happens I’ll let others lose money on it, and so be it.

Harley Feldman
BrainTrust

I agree with your approach.

Paula Rosenblum
BrainTrust

No, I don’t see it. I didn’t see it for Amazon, and I don’t see it as a big winner for Walmart.

They’re going to get skewed results from Vero Beach, which has a lot of snowbird retirees who might appreciate having the whole process done for them. But maybe that’s the story behind the story.

In my story, Laura broke her hip and is happy to have someone take care of bringing her groceries into the house.

Georganne Bender
BrainTrust

Would I allow a Walmart employee access to my home when I am not there? Nope.

Retailers are wracking their brains to come up with the next big thing; the coolest customer convenience. I get it. Some people will be just fine with strangers walking around their homes, but I can’t imagine that this service will be big.

P.S. The TV is on as I write this. There are two cases in the news right now about people being shot in their own homes by police who thought they were intruders; one because a neighbor called to report an open garage door. Who would want an in-home delivery job?

Paula Rosenblum
BrainTrust

I can only think of a retiree who IS home but can’t carry things. Hence, Vero Beach, snowbird central.

Georganne Bender
BrainTrust

We think alike. I’m good with in-home delivery, but if I were Laura my three kids would have to wait for their banana bread. Mommy doesn’t let strangers in her home.

Rich Kizer
BrainTrust

Tell Laura she has more nerve than I by letting someone in her garage. Maybe it’s because I live in a big city where garages seem to serve as portals of entry for burglars. That being said, I am sure there will be many who love the convenience, such as home bound customers, those not willing to make a trip, and the list goes on and on. Perhaps as gas prices rise, this program will save money for customers. But here is what I really like: the thrust of aggression of Walmart in the marketplace.

Ananda Chakravarty
BrainTrust
Walmart will learn whether home access concerns outweigh convenience with grocery products. They will learn whether a set of customers are willing to invest monthly for this type of service and the level of demand. They will learn about some of the geo-operational concerns of offering this kind of service- e.g. rural/urban, bulk/individual, fresh/shelf. They’ll learn about the cost structure and management of this kind of service. They’ll learn whether it makes sense to launch it nationally or in select regions. They’ll learn more about why customers prefer to select their own food products and when they’re willing to pass. Walmart will learn whether this type of service means heavy education and changing customer behavior and/or how to insert the service into existing behavior. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. As for adoption, that’s hard to tell. The grocery market has been moving slower than other markets. A recent Gallup poll suggests slow slow growth. The assumptions of single home residences vs. rental properties. Temporary arrangements vs. ongoing needs for say, the elderly.… Read more »
Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust
History often repeats itself, and rarely rhymes. I hope Walmart spent some time consulting with Tim DeMello, the founder of Streamline.com and the first person I know of to try to make in-home delivery work. For those too young to remember, Streamline put temperature controlled boxes in people’s garages. Drivers would use a secure code to enter the garage and put refrigerated goods in a fridge, dry cleaning on clothes rods, etc. I remember touring the Streamline warehouse and seeing all of the trashed refrigerators. Of course, moving directly into the home (hopefully) avoids customers driving their cars into delivery areas, since the delivery area is the kitchen, but it opens a Pandora’s Box of potential issues from consumers filing false robbery claims to … well … actual robberies, or worse. These in-home delivery plans are only as good as their weakest link. One publicized proven robbery, rape, assault or even oil tracked through a kitchen floor and the program is over. So, for now at least, I think the liability potential still exceeds the… Read more »
George Anderson
Staff

I loved Streamline. They would deliver to a refrigerator that they provided, which was located in a detached garage. Don’t think I would have been willing to let them into our home if that was the only option.

Heidi Sax
BrainTrust

Let’s dig into this persona. How long does it take Laura to put groceries away? Yes, it’s a pain, but compared to traditional grocery delivery, this only saves her a little a bit of time. The most painful part of this task is probably refrigerator Tetris and tossing whatever her family failed to eat the week prior. Whole Foods already delivers groceries directly to her door between 8-10pm. The target persona here isn’t Laura — it’s Grandma Judith. The task of unpacking groceries is a bit more arduous for her, and she could be working full time too. Why aren’t they focusing their marketing efforts there?

Stephen Rector
BrainTrust

Many people (myself included) have no problem letting people into our homes to do plumbing and electrical work while not physically there. So assuming there is a level of trust that Walmart is vetting their delivery people, what is the difference in letting a person deliver groceries to your kitchen? Not that much actually. There could actually be demand for this – but the tests will need to prove it out from a financial perspective in order to scale.

Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust

The difference may be that the plumber or electrician is bonded, probably has references, and/or is known to you or your friends. Plus, we are talking about one plumber and one electrician — not a small delivery army. I have to salute your trust in human nature by the way. Here in the Motor City, nobody comes in when someone isn’t home. It’s just not “a thing.” There are enough problems with folks coming in when the home owners are there.

John Karolefski
BrainTrust

Just another signpost on the road of crazy ideas.
Three words: theft, breakage, Doberman.

Georganne Bender
BrainTrust

John, you nailed it!

Mel Kleiman
BrainTrust

I don’t think that it matters whether it is successful or not. This is a real chance to learn more about what the customer really wants in the way of time savings and convenience, and what they are willing to pay for.

Walmart is not dumb and is making all kinds of moves to make sure the person who has access to your house had been thoroughly screened. I would bet the screening is much better then that done by most house cleaning services.

Kim Souza
Guest
28 days 23 hours ago

10 years ago, who would have thought we would get in the car with strangers and pay them for a ride, or share our homes with strangers looking for a bed and breakfast? Walmart is no-doubt looking at this evolution of consumer behavior and trying to provide a service that some will use and others will still see as creepy.

I see this as a niche market for the time-being. Walmart is testing it, but I don’t think this will ever be rolled out nationally. That said, it might work in select markets.

If I had a vacation home in Vero Beach I might use the service to restock the fridge before a visit. Only time will tell. Kudos to Walmart for testing it and innovating for the future. There are liability and privacy issues that will have to be considered by Walmart before this is service is scaled.

Sterling Hawkins
BrainTrust

Privacy is culture and it changes over time. 15 years ago it would be ludicrous to post all our family pictures and trips online; now it’s almost standard. I expect we’ll see that same thing over time for these kinds of services. Is the value exchange worthwhile? Consumers will increasingly answer: yes.

suresh chaganti
Guest
27 days 11 minutes ago
If anyone can do this, it is someone like Walmart or Amazon who have resources, and have not gone through data breach or privacy related credibility issues yet. I think at some point in time convenience will trump privacy and safety concerns, but we are not there yet. That’s the business of these companies, though — to push the envelope. Walmart can probably test places with lower barriers such as mom and pop stores. Leaving deliveries in a garage in a temperature controlled box is also good idea. They can even offer to provide a low cost fridge too. Maybe waiving off the fees for someone who spends their entire grocery bill on Walmart (probably $200 to $400) might entice and tip lot of people over. From a safety point of view, if they guarantee a pool of delivery people with photos, etc., that could alleviate some concerns. Maybe the first two deliveries are done only when someone is at home. Since these are presumably delivered from a local Walmart, that should be possible. Walmart… Read more »
wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"At the beginning adoption will certainly be minimal – but over time, convenience can open many refrigerator doors."
"I didn’t see it for Amazon, and I don’t see it as a big winner for Walmart. "
"Just another signpost on the road of crazy ideas. Three words: theft, breakage, Doberman."

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