Walmart is making a big bet on customers’ desire for increased convenience, announcing Wednesday that its InHome delivery service will expand availability from six million to 30 million households, including in cities such as in Los Angeles and Chicago, by the end of this year.
InHome allows Walmart employees wearing cameras to enter a customer’s home to deliver groceries and other purchases or to pick up returns, even when the customer is not there.
“Now you’ve got this ultimate convenience where you get home, the refrigerator is restocked and other items like video games, clothing, toiletries and other non-perishables are on the countertop,” Tom Ward, senior vice president of last mile delivery at Walmart, told CNBC. “We will also pick up your return if you start that process on the app we will grab the item the next day and will process that return for you.”
CNBC was given access to a demonstration of the InHome service in Glendale, Arizona. The process began with the delivery driver attaching a wearable camera. Every delivery can be viewed live or as a recording on the Walmart App. The employee outfitted in protective coverings over their shoes then accessed a smart lock from Walmart at the front door to enter the home and carried the ordered items inside in plastic bins. The delivery person placed items in the refrigerator and on the counter as requested and wiped down all surfaces with a sanitizing wipe before leaving.
“I’ve used it for the last month and a half and have been very satisfied,” Erin Amini, a customer in Glendale told CNBC. “We no longer have to go to the store. We feel safe with Covid. They wear masks, they sanitize and they are also always recording so we know what is happening while they are in our home.”
Walmart is expanding InHome as the lines are blurring between what Insider Intelligence estimates as a $93 billion grocery delivery market and what Coresight Research pegs as up to a $25 billion quick-commerce market, which includes the likes of DoorDash. Walmart’s InHome service costs $19.95 per month with no additional fees, and it’s part of a growing trend of “delivery as a service.”
Amazon Fresh grocery delivery is included with a $12.99 per month Prime membership.
Instacart Express costs $9.99 a month and offers free delivery for orders over $35 with lower service fees.
DoorDash offers a DashPass subscription for $9.99 a month with a minimum of $12 for restaurant orders. DoorDash also makes deliveries from retailers like 7-Eleven and CVS.
Walmart said it will hire 3,000 employees to support its InHome expansion, giving them real world and virtual reality training. They will be paid approximately 9% more than Walmart’s average wage of $16.40 an hour. Walmart’s 3,700 stores will be used as fulfillment centers and InHome delivery drivers will drive electric vehicles as part of the company’s goal of a zero emissions logistics fleet by 2040.
“They’ll also deliver Walmart packages, they’ll deliver Walmart GoLocal client packages, and they’ll do InHome delivery. It’s making the best of all these assets that we’re putting together in a way that’s really sustainable,” Ward said.
Walmart initially launched InHome in 2019 as a pilot in Kansas City, Pittsburgh and Vero Beach, Fla., and it’s since expanded in Northwest Arkansas, Atlanta, Phoenix and Washington, D.C. The company declined to say how many customers the service now has.
“What we’ve learned in the years we’ve been testing our InHome proposition is that customers love the convenience of having the items that they’ve ordered put in their fridge, their freezer, or left on their countertop, or in the garage when they come home. And they can just set and forget and really do the things they want to spend their time doing,” Ward added.
Currently the nation’s largest grocer by revenue, Walmart has used that frequency-driving category to fuel online sales growth by launching convenient ways for people to shop and encouraging customers to buy other items, such as apparel, electronics and more, when replenishing the fridge with a gallon of milk or getting ingredients for dinner.
The big-box retailer is also the nation’s leader in click and collect, a service that allows shoppers to place online orders and pick up purchases in the store or parking lot. One in every four dollars that Americans spent on click and collect in 2021 went to Walmart, according to a recent estimate by Insider Intelligence.
“We think there is no one right answer in the last mile equation,” Ward said. “We want to experiment and then when we see those things that really resonate with our customers we want to scale out to as many people as we possibly can as fast as we can.”