BENTONVILLE, Ark.—Walmart will start testing another delivery innovation for groceries—smart coolers, CNBC reports. The retailer will run a pilot program in its hometown of dropping groceries in a smart cooler outside customer homes.
Walmart currently offers free, unlimited home delivery of groceries as part of its Walmart+ subscription service. For the pilot, participating customers will receive a HomeValet, a temperature-controlled smart cooler, to allow for secure and contactless grocery deliveries.
“The prospect of this technology is intriguing, both for customers and for Walmart’s last mile delivery efforts,” said Tom Ward, Walmart U.S. senior vice president of customer product. “For customers, they don’t need to plan their day around when their grocery delivery will be made. For Walmart, it presents an opportunity to deliver items 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
Ward clarified Walmart has no plans for 24/7 deliveries. The retailer debuted its grocery delivery service three years ago. Prior to the pandemic, Walmart had been trying out new grocery delivery methods, including the membership program InHome, which put meats, produce and other groceries into customer fridges. That program still operates in a handful of cities.
HomeValet uses rectangular coolers with three temperature zones—frozen, refrigerator or room temperature. Walmart personnel use a device to lock and unlock the smart cooler when making the delivery.
Customers continue to clamor for delivery options when it comes to groceries.
NACS Research last year published its landmark “Last Mile Fulfillment in Convenience Retail” study. To learn more, read “Covering the Last Mile” in the January 2021 issue of the NACS Magazine.