And you thought Alexa eavesdropping on your conversations was unsettling: Walmart has unveiled a new plan to upstage Amazon delivery, and it involves giving them a key to your house and access to your fridge. The company says that in the future it hopes to “keep some customers’ homes in stock like we keep stores in stock today.” One vision for achieving this involves a direct-to-home delivery service where the groceries you order online aren’t left in boxes on the patio (so 2017), but miraculously end up stored inside your actual kitchen, although probably in parts of your pantry or fridge you find incomprehensible. The service’s real selling point, though, is that it’s “even more convenient” because deliveries occur while you’re “at work” or “off doing other things.”
Walmart explains in a blog post how the process works: Delivery people get a one-time passcode that opens a “smart lock” that shoppers must install first. (The whole service is essentially built around that lock — it’s actually a partnership with August Home, a smart-lock start-up.) When the driver gets to the door, you get a phone notification that your delivery is occurring. You can watch from an app “in real-time” if you like. This person will drop off packages in the foyer, then put away all the groceries in the kitchen.
However yours is stocked, here’s ostensibly the end result, according to a firsthand account from Walmart’s VP of e-commerce strategy and business operations Sloan Eddleston:
When I enter my house later that day, it’s like magic — the items I purchased from Walmart.com are waiting for me, and my groceries are nice and cool in the fridge, as if they never left their display in the store. And the best part is that I didn’t even have to unpack anything. Think about that — someone else does the shopping for you AND puts it all away.
The service is in a limited test right now with a small group of Silicon Valley shoppers. Walmart naturally thinks it’s a great idea, but also recognizes that in-home delivery “may not be for everyone.” People commenting on Walmart’s blog post seem to agree — a large chunk of them say things like, “Your random-stranger-in-my-house concept makes me seize up completely,” “No, no and no!” and “Not in a million years. No Walmart employee is coming in my house even if I’m there.”