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OM in the News: Walmart Wants to Put Groceries Into Your Fridge

June 18, 2019

The new grocery-delivery service will initially be offered in Kansas City. Pittsburgh, and Vero Beach, Fla.

Walmart is opening a new front in home-delivery services: carting milk, eggs and other groceries and leaving them in the fridge. This fall, Walmart in 3 cities will start delivering online grocery orders directly to refrigerators in shoppers’ homes and garages. The workers will wear body cameras clipped to their chests, allowing customers to watch live streams of deliveries being made while they aren’t home. Workers will enter residences equipped with smartlocks, internet-connect devices that can be controlled remotely to unlock a door.

The service, Walmart InHome, marks the latest attempt by retailers to adjust to changing shopping habits and solve the last-mile delivery problem, especially for groceries, reports The Wall Street Journal (June 7, 2019). Walmart workers will need to be with the company for at least a year to make deliveries. Walmart also added short biographical profiles of its delivery workers to the pilot service’s consumer app, which helped humanize them. “Customers didn’t know who was coming into their homes, so we changed it,” the firm stated.

The retailer is working to grab market share in online grocery shopping to maintain its place as the country’s largest grocer. Walmart this year plans to offer online grocery pickup from over 3,000 store parking lots and 1,600 stores that offer grocery delivery, mostly by joining with crowdsourced delivery firms.

Amazon offers a similar in-home delivery service for Prime members in 50 cities, called Key by Amazon. But drivers don’t deliver fresh groceries, and they leave items just inside a door, garage or the trunk of a car, not a refrigerator.

Classroom discussion questions:

  1. Who is the target customer for this service?
  2. What operational difficulties might be encountered?
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