Walmart is taking its battle against online giant Amazon to the next level, piloting a service that will not only deliver groceries to a customer's front door, but have the driver carry them inside and load them into the refrigerator.
The big box retailer announced the trial in a blog post last week noting that it's being done in partnership with August Home, which makes the keyless locks that can be controlled with a smartphone that are crucial to the service.
In a test being conducted with some August Home customers in Silicon Valley, users can order products, including groceries, from Walmart.com.
A Deliv driver will then be dispatched to drop the order off, and if the customer is not home, the driver will enter a one-time passcode into the house's smart lock keypad. The driver will walk in, leave the packages in the hallway, and if the customer has ordered vegetables, steak or other items for dinner, place the groceries right inside the refrigerator or freezer.
The homeowner, who will get a message telling them when their packages have arrived, can view the delivery - from the time the driver enters, until they walk back out the door, - through the August Home app. They'll even be notified that the front door has been locked once the driver takes off.
"We want to do more in the future by delivering groceries and other orders in whatever location works best for our customers, inside the house for some and in the fridge/freezer in the garage for others,'' Sloan Eddleston, vice president, Walmart eCommerce strategy and business operations, wrote in the blog. "The possibilities are endless.''
Walmart, the largest U.S. company by revenue, and Amazon, the online behemoth that has revolutionized e-commerce and forced many traditional stores to play catch up, have been in a vigorous battle to win over shoppers with speed and convenience.
Both have opened up the chance for free shipping to a growing number of consumers. And Walmart is offering discounts on online orders if customers will pick them up, as well as testing employee delivery of Walmart.com orders from a few stores.
But the grocery space is becoming a key battleground in the wake of Amazon's purchase of Whole Foods, which will give it a chance to significantly expand its grocery delivery service through the premium grocer's network of 468 stores. Walmart has said that it will extend its own delivery service to 1,100 locations by the end of this year.
Walmart could prove formidable in the online grocery business since its stores are within 10 miles of roughly 90% of Americans. During the company's second quarter, Walmart reported that its grocery sales had their most robust growth rate in five years.