Outside a home in Moon Township last Thursday, Walmart InHome Delivery associate Nick Burmaster unloads groceries from one of the company's branded cars. Dressed head-to-toe in a blue InHome uniform, Burmaster puts surgical booties over his tennis shoes, and turns on a small camera that's strapped to his chest, which begins a livestream to the customer.
"I lean down to show that I put booties on, and then you always face the door, that way it shows me unlocking it," Burmaster explains.
Through the InHome delivery app, Burmaster is able to unlock the customer's door after a series of security checks. For each InHome customer, Walmart has installed a smart lock either on their door or garage. This allows electronic access for Walmart's delivery associates.
Burmaster goes inside, unloads the cold groceries into the fridge, and pantry items onto the customer's counter, and with that, the delivery is over.
Walmart launched a pilot of its InHome Grocery Delivery service about three months ago in three cities: Pittsburgh, Kansas City, and Vero Beach, Florida. The company is tight lipped about the program's success so far — it declined to share how many customers use the service, or how many deliveries have been made. But Whitney Pegden, Walmart's vice president and general manager of InHome said the team is happy with the results.
"A lot of the things that we're seeing now are really good teasers of things to come, but also could shift pretty dramatically as we scale," Pegden said.
Walmart isn't the only company that delivers groceries inside the home. Amazon launched Amazon Key in 2017, which also relies on a smart lock to bring packages, including groceries, inside. Corey Hagler, vice president of insights at market research firm TrendSource, said more established grocery retailers are exploring the idea.
"While Walmart and Amazon are kind of the giants within the industry, and we continue to talk about this as though it's a two-way race between them, we can't forget that they are relatively new to selling groceries," Hagler said. "There are other traditional players in the industry who are forming partnerships and making investments in their e-commerce and home delivery. They tell us they'll be central players in the grocery wars to come."
Earlier this month, Kroger and Microsoft announced a partnership to expand digital retail services to customers.
Walmart's InHome team plans to expand the program, though details are not yet available.