Forget “last mile,” Walmart Inc. is taking delivery to the last few inches.
The retail giant announced Friday a new service that will deliver groceries not just to customers’ homes, but to their fridge, even when they’re not home. Walmart InHome delivery will launch in the fall in three markets: Kansas City, Mo., Pittsburgh, and Vero Beach, Fla.
“Once we learned how to do pickup well, we knew it would unlock the ability to deliver,” Chief Executive Doug McMillon said in a statement. “But what if we not only cover the last mile to customers’ homes but even the last few steps? What if we put their groceries away inside their kitchens or garages? Imagine keeping homes in stock like we do stores.”
Groceries will be delivered by “tenured” employees who will go through an extensive training program and be vetted through background checks and motor-vehicle records verification, a Walmart spokesperson said.
They will gain entry to a house through smart-entry technology and wear a camera, so customers can watch remotely, and are expected to show “the same care and respect with which they would treat a friend’s or family’s home,” Marc Lore, Walmart’s CEO of e-commerce, said in a blog post. They’ll also be trained to “select the freshest grocery items and organize the most efficient refrigerator,” Lore said.
Customers will need to have a specific smart lock installed in their home, a Walmart spokesperson said. Further details will be announced closer to the program’s launch.
said later this year, the program will be expanded to offer returns too — customers will leave the item to be returned on the kitchen counter, for example, and the delivery person will return it to the store.
While letting a stranger make a delivery inside your house while you’re not home may raise eyebrows, Walmart is not the first to try it. Rival Amazon.com Inc.
launched a program for Prime members in 2018 in which delivery drivers can leave a package inside a home. Like Walmart’s program, they gain entry using a smart lock and there’s a live video feed for security. United Parcel Service Inc.
is also rolling out in-home delivery in partnership with smart-lock company Latch.
Walmart shares are up about 13% year to date, compared to the 10% gain by the Dow Jones Industrial Average
, of which it is a component.