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Walmart vastly expands its straight-to-your-fridge service as grocery delivery war with Amazon, Instacart, and DoorDash heats up

January 5, 2022, 5:02 PM UTC

Ready to have a Walmart worker walk into your home with bags full of groceries and put them in your fridge for you—all while you’re out?

The mammoth retailer is betting that despite the pandemic and any security concerns, millions of Americans will be willing to have strangers enter their homes to drop online orders off in their absence. Walmart is looking to gain an edge over rivals such as Amazon, DoorDash, and Instacart in the intensifying grocery delivery wars—a particularly critical arena for Walmart, which gets about 56% of its U.S. sales from food. (Walmart’s InHome service will deliver other types of items, but given the need to quickly get fresh food into fridges, grocery will be a big focus of the service.)

InHome, begun as a pilot in 2019 and expanded last year, empowers employees to enter a customer’s home to deliver groceries or other orders, or pick up merchandise returns. The employees tote a camera so the customer can watch the delivery if desired. In a big push announced on Wednesday, Walmart said InHome’s availability would expand to markets totaling 30 million households, including major metros like Chicago and Los Angeles, up from 6 million, though Walmart did not say how many customers have actually used the service.

“[We] have found it is a perfect solution for customers who want to live their lives without worrying about making it to the store or being home to accept a delivery,” said Tom Ward, senior vice president, last mile, at Walmart U.S.

To alleviate concerns over safety, Walmart’s service has its employees use a one-time access code to unlock the customer’s door or garage through the InHome app, which connects to smart entry technology. (Customers can also buy a smart lock from InHome for $49.95.) Each worker also wears a camera that records the entire visit. And in a nod to COVID concerns, employees will also sanitize any surface they touch.

Walmart’s InHome Delivery service costs $19.95 per month and is designed to help the retail giant stand out from online rivals that have their own growing delivery services. The stakes are high for Walmart: Its overall online sales have almost doubled compared with levels of two years ago. What’s more, it has a network of thousands of stores from which most InHome deliveries originate. That distribution base could give it an edge over competitors that don’t have a fleet of stores in winning the grocery delivery market, which Insider Intelligence estimates to be a $93 billion opportunity. Amazon Fresh grocery delivery is included in Prime membership, while Instacart Express charges $9.99, the same as what DoorDash charges for a similar subscription, with certain order minimums.

To support the service, Walmart plans to hire at least 3,000 more staff dedicated to InHome and provide them with all-electric delivery vans.

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