Walmart is working with August Home to deliver merchandise and leave it inside your home. August Home is a Silicon Valley company that makes a popular door lock that unlocks without the need for a key, instead using an app and a passcode.
An announcement, made by Walmart this past week, explains how it would work. They would have a delivery person from a Walmart affiliated company leave your packages inside if you’re not home instead of dropping it outside your front door. According to the announcement, the service would even put perishables in your refrigerator. They explained, “So we asked the question: what if Walmart could help busy families like mine ensure my fridge was always well-stocked?” The answer? “What if we created a service that not only did my grocery shopping and brought everything to my home, but even went so far as to put it directly into my fridge?” Walmart said. “And, what if it was even more convenient because this “in-fridge delivery” happened while I was at work or off doing other things?”
Here’s how Walmart envisions it 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.
The company will be testing this in Silicon Valley using August Home customers who have volunteered to try out the concept. Walmart noted that they may offer this service to other users of smart locks that open without a key.
Walmart has been trying to find more ways to compete with Amazon by enlarging their e-commerce business. One-quarter of their online sales are currently groceries, according to Slice Intelligence data, so they are trying to make it more convenient. It’s great that they are trying to be innovative, but let’s think this through for a moment. Just what could go wrong when a stranger, working for close to minimum wage, is given free entry and access to your entire home?
It opens up the possibility of so many things going wrong: The homeowners find something is missing when they return home. It might have been misplaced, but the blame will likely go to the delivery person. Or the delivery person enters the home and is bitten by the family dog that’s trained to react to strangers. Or the person enters the home, thinking no one is there, only to be confronted by the owner not hearing the doorbell.
Sloan Eddleston, vice president of Walmart eCommerce Strategy and Business Operations, perhaps anticipated some blowback, explaining, “This may not be for everyone — and certainly not right away — but we want to offer customers the opportunity to participate in tests today and help us shape what commerce will look like in the future.”