Walmart Wants to Send Someone to Stock Your Fridge — Even When You’re Not Home

NEW YORK — Getting groceries delivered to your home is not new. But what about having someone that you don’t know come into your house to put away the food?

Walmart is doing just that. It announced Friday that it’s testing a so-called straight into your fridge service — and you can watch it happen on your phone thanks to cameras installed in your house.

Here’s how it works.

Walmart spokesperson Ravi Jariwala said the retailer partnered with smart security company August, which makes locks that you can monitor on your phone. August reached out to customers in Silicon Valley to find people to sign up for the delivery service.

The customers taking part in the trial can buy products from Walmart.com, including groceries. Once the order is placed, a driver from the crowdsourced, same-day delivery startup Deliv goes to pick up the items.

If you aren’t home when the driver rings the doorbell, the Deliv driver will receive a one-time passcode for the August smart lock that was already authorized by the customer.

The Walmart customer will also be notified when the doorbell rings so they can watch on the August doorbell cam.

The August app also links to other cameras that may be installed in the house, like those from Google/Alphabet-owned Nest, so that consumer can watch the driver drop off packages and even put the food away in the kitchen.

Once the driver leaves, the door locks automatically.

Walmart’s Jariwala noted that the Deliv drivers know they can be monitored by the customer and that any reported incidents will be addressed.

You can see how it works here.

Now some harried consumers who are too busy (or lazy) to go to a store — let alone put the groceries away — might find this to be really cool and convenient.

Others, especially those concerned about their personal privacy, may scoff at the notion of letting a stranger enter their home to put away milk and ice cream in their refrigerator and freezer. (Maybe there needs to be an August smart lock on the fridge too?)

Deliv CEO Daphne Carmeli said in an email to CNNMoney that all drivers “undergo a comprehensive screen process” as well as “regular audits, ratings and checks.” She added that drivers taking part in the Walmart delivery trial all agreed to being videotaped.

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And August CEO Jason Johnson said he’s confident that customers will really like the delivery service, even if they have some initial reservations.

“We are going to have to build trust with consumers. At first you might be a little nervous. But after you do it once or twice, you absolutely will do it again,” Johnson said. “Everyone who has tried it so far is really satisfied.”

Walmart’s Jariwala conceded that this might be not for everyone though and the company has no plans to launch the service nationwide yet.

A service like this would have been unheard of for any retailer, let alone one as large and traditional as Walmart, to consider doing this just a few years ago. Some may still draw the line at letting a driver in their home while they are away.

But Jariwala added we now live in an age where consumers don’t think twice about getting rides from strangers on Uber, asking people on TaskRabbit to do mundane things like their laundry and letting someone they’ve never met stay in their home through Airbnb.

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It may seem surprising that Walmart is doing something this innovative. It sounds like it’s more up Amazon’s alley, especially since Amazon sells the Alexa-powered Echo smart speaker and now owns Whole Foods as well.

But this is just another example of how traditional retailers realize that they must reach out more to tech-savvy consumers. Just this week, grocery chain Albertsons, which also owns Safeway, bought meal kit delivery service Plated, a rival to Blue Apron.

And Walmart has aggressively built up its own online retailing operations through the purchase of Jet.com and smaller e-commerce specialty sites like Modcloth, Bonobos, Moosejaw and Shoebuy.

In fact, Jet already has a deal with another smart lock company, New York-based Latch, that allows urban consumers get deliveries when they are not home. That’s particularly useful for urbanites who live in a building without a doorman.

But what do you think? Is Walmart’s new service cool or creepy? Let us know on Facebook.

14 comments

  • Think Positive

    It’s kind of sad though, because whoever thought of this “not so great” plan, still has faith in the goodness and trust of all people.

  • Matthew Berns

    Can you imagine how many attorneys this will employ? Not to mention the minimum wage jobs it will produce. If you are so disabled that you can’t put away your own groceries you probably shouldn’t be living at that location. If you are so busy you can’t go shopping and put away your own groceries you’re probably stretching yourself too thin. If you are rich, lazy, and trusting this service is for you. I might be a pessimist.

  • Bob Calvey

    Wait let me screw my head on a little tighter for this story anybody who even thinks about this needs their head examined

  • warningfakenews

    This seems like a great idea to some people, namely the wealthy. Seriously. They’re used to giving folks (servants or contractors of various stripes) access to their houses to perform services for them. It wasn’t the folks working at the ground floor level of W-M that came up with this idea, it was the higher-ups- people with money.

    No common sense, though. When W-M workers are caught by cameras doing things that will embarrass the company big time, the program will end. Just sayin’.

    • Robert

      Kind of like, minimum wage vs the bottle of pills in the drawer next to the bread shelf. Yea, that could be an issue.

  • Lance

    Americans are proving once again how lazy we can sink to. Wal-Mart shouldnt be pandering to the worthless morons who want to be catered to.

    • Robert

      Worthless? So they do this for free? The business of convenience is big. What does this symbolize about our culture is the real debate. I can think of several uses that would be beneficial and not representative of LAZY. Sick, elderly, homebound, even house arrest. I unfortunately can also think of nefarious uses as well. Equifax comes to mind, but has many friends on the bad list.

  • Lloyd Schmucatelli

    Well, it’s official, humans have bottomed out in stupidity and laziness.

    Time to change this cosmic channel once and for all….

Comments are closed.