Here at the Food Institute Blog, we regularly write about how retailers and food producers are trying to get a foothold in customers' doors. From grocery delivery programs to Internet of Things-connected fridges to digital assistants, most recognize that technology and convenience are driving forces for today's companies. Everyone wants that foot in the door. Figuratively, at least.
Well, it seems Walmart wants to make that foot literal.
On Sept. 22, in a company blog post, Walmart Vice President of Ecommerce Strategy & Business Operations Sloan Eddleston outlined a new pilot program that allows for in-home deliveries of groceries directly to a customer's refrigerator. The project is primarily active in California's decidedly tech-forward Silicon Valley community, which makes sense: the project requires digital locks that can be reset following delivery. Eddleston said:
"Here’s how the test will work: I place an order on Walmart.com for several items, even groceries. When my order is ready, a Deliv driver will retrieve my items and bring them to my home. If no one answers the doorbell, he or she will have a one-time passcode that I’ve pre-authorized which will open my home’s smart lock. As the homeowner, I’m in control of the experience the entire time – the moment the Deliv driver rings my doorbell, I receive a smartphone notification that the delivery is occurring and, if I choose, I can watch the delivery take place in real-time. The Deliv associate will drop off my packages in my foyer and then carry my groceries to the kitchen, unload them in my fridge and leave. I’m watching the entire process from start to finish from my home security cameras through the August app. As I watch the Deliv associate exit my front door, I even receive confirmation that my door has automatically been locked."
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?
However, I must give credit where credit is due. A few years ago, I wouldn't believe you if you told me an Amazon drone could drop off bananas at a person's home, but here we are. Perhaps this foray by Walmart is just the first in a long line of companies attempting to literally stock your fridge, but only time will tell.
Chris is a business writer and market analyst that focuses on the Markets, Legal and Washington sections of the Food Institute Report. In addition, he assists in compiling data for various Food Institute publications throughout the year. He invites you to contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org to talk about anything food-related.
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