Managing home grocery deliveries right now isn't exceedingly difficult for those who are working from home and have access to such services. Delivery from 2 to 4 p.m., 4 to 6, 6 to 8? We'll be around.
But it's trickier for essential workers who head to a job site each day. And it will get more challenging as more Americans across industries head back to the office, whenever that is.
Walmart wants to be ready. The Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer announced Jan. 12 that in a pilot in its hometown this spring, it will deliver groceries to temperature-controlled smart boxes placed outside customers' homes. The smart boxes, which rely on connected technology from HomeValet, have three temperature zones for storage of frozen, refrigerated and pantry items. Delivery providers receive secure access to the boxes when deliveries are ready to be made.
No details were made immediately available about how customers would obtain the boxes or costs associated with doing so.
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"The prospect of this technology is intriguing, both for customers and for Walmart’s last-mile delivery efforts," said Tom Ward, SVP of customer product for Walmart U.S., in a Walmart blog post announcing the pilot. Customers will have "the ability to receive secure, contactless deliveries with the peace of mind knowing their grocery items will stay fresh," Ward wrote. For Walmart, it opens up the possibility of 24/7 delivery, and while the retailer has no plans to launch that at this time, the capability "has a nice ring to it," he added.
"Delivery should fit within [customers'] lifestyle, not the other way around," Ward wrote.