Voice-ordering devices. Smart thermostats. Mobile-connected cameras. Even Internet of Things-enabled fridges that allow for re-ordering: It seems brands and retailers want to get into consumers' homes, but the level is accelerating.
About a month ago, I wrote a blog called "Walmart Wants to Get In Your Home... Literally" detailing the plans Walmart had for in-home delivery. At the time, I wrote:
"While the project is certainly headline worthy and innovative, I'm not sure most of the country is ready for this kind of service. Granted, it seems perfect for Silicon Valley and other parts of the country that are more tech-invested, but I am uncertain most of this country is ready for a person they do not know to enter their homes. How many have the required technology to allow for this type of transaction, anyway?"
Turns out, this might be a bigger market than I thought. Amazon launched Amazon Key, a service for Prime members that enables in-home delivery. The service allows customers to track their delivery with real-time notifications, watch the delivery happening live or review a video of the delivery after it is complete. Amazon Key will initially be available in 37 cities and surrounding areas across the U.S., with more locations rolling out over time.
“Amazon Key gives customers peace of mind knowing their orders have been safely delivered to their homes and are waiting for them when they walk through their doors,” said Peter Larsen, Vice President of Delivery Technology, Amazon. “Now, Prime members can select in-home delivery and conveniently see their packages being delivered right from their mobile phones.”
If Walmart was trying to get a foot in the door, it seems Amazon is trying to invite the entire family over for dinner. Walmart was testing the process in tech-forward Silicon Valley communities, whereas Amazon will roll the program out in 37 cities and surrounding areas at launch. Considering many analysts believe Walmart and Amazon will compete for both online and in-store sales share in the coming years as ominchannel offerings become the standard, it seems Amazon will have a major step up on the in-home delivery market.
I'm still unconvinced this will technology will proliferate as quickly as other "in-home" devices, but I've been wrong before. For proof, just look above at my view of Walmart's play. However, there is a difference between trusting a virtual voice assistant and a delivery person within your home. Amazon just seems to be betting big that the program will provide enough convenience that customers will trust them. I guess we'll see.