Walmart Pilots Smart Cooler Grocery Delivery

The HomeValet box sits on the front of a customer's porch and can be filled any time of day.

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Need to Know

  • Walmart is piloting the HomeValet smart box, which allows contact-free grocery delivery 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in Bentonville, Arkansas.
  • The HomeValet is temperature-controlled and communicates with the delivery provider’s smartphone or other devices to allow them access to the cooler.
  • Walmart currently offers same-day grocery delivery at approximately 2,900 stores in the US.

Analysis

Walmart is piloting 24/7 grocery delivery with the HomeValet smart box, a temperature-controlled cooler that is placed outside a customer’s home to allow contact-free delivery any time of day (or night).

The HomeValet smart box has three temperature-controlled zones, which allow it to store frozen, fresh, and pantry items. Walmart plans to do outreach to customers in Bentonville, Arkansas, where it is piloting the smart box program, to gauge interest; customers who want to use the HomeValet will have the box placed outside their homes, where couriers can use its IoT tech to securely access and fill the box with Walmart groceries at any time of day or night, regardless of whether the customer is home.

An example of what the HomeValet cooler looks like.

“This gives customers the ability to receive secure, contactless deliveries with the peace of mind knowing their grocery items will stay fresh,” Tom Ward, SVP of customer product for Walmart US, wrote in a blog post announcing the pilot. “For Walmart, it presents an opportunity to deliver items 24 hours a day, seven days a week. While we don’t have plans to do 24/7 delivery today, it certainly has a nice ring to it.”

Walmart is the first company to use HomeValet, which is currently not on the market but is planning a consumer rollout in the first half of this year.

Grocery delivery has steadily increased in popularity for Walmart throughout the pandemic, with the big box store posting record-breaking sales volumes in its grocery category at the end of its last quarter. Currently, Walmart offers its grocery pickup service at 3,600 locations and same-day grocery delivery at approximately 2,900 locations in the US.

The HomeValet pilot is just the latest in a series of home-delivery innovations by Walmart. Early last year, the company announced plans to expand its in-home delivery, though that option quickly proved unpopular due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The company also began delivering health and wellness products via drone to customers in Arkansas (which is also where the HomeValet pilot will take place).

Walmart’s COVID-driven innovation has been consistent since the start of the pandemic, with the big-box retailer prioritizing the customer experience throughout its announced launches and pivots. In addition to the launch of Walmart+, its subscription program, the company also announced ambitious plans to redesign its physical stores with a focus on e-commerce and partnered with Interac for easier online payments.

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