- Walmart is working with technology startup HomeValet to market unattended, temperature-controlled boxes to selected customers of the retailer's InHome grocery delivery service in Florida, according to a Wednesday press release.
- The camera-equipped, multi-zone units will carry a launch price of $499 and allow customers to accept deliveries from any retailer, said Jack Simms, HomeValet's co-founder and chief operating officer.
- Walmart's arrangement with HomeValet is the retailer's latest step in delivering groceries to shoppers' homes without requiring them to be around or immediately available to put away their items.
HomeValet is initially making the 6.9-cubic-foot delivery unit, known as Smart Box, available to shoppers who place delivery orders from 10 Walmart stores located between Miami and Vero Beach, Florida, along the state's east coast, according to Simms.
The technology company chose that region because its warm climate presents an optimal use case for the boxes, which are intended for installation outside a home and can keep items refrigerated or frozen or at ambient temperature between about 60 and 70 degrees in up to three separately controlled zones, Simms said.
The company will be taking pre-order orders for several weeks before starting deliveries, and intends to begin a broader rollout of the Smart Box later this year, he said.
Eligible customers will be able to place orders for Home Valet's product with a down payment of $50. HomeValet's service also comes with a $15 monthly fee, although Simms said that charge will be $10 for its early customers.
HomeValet and Walmart are starting sales of the Smart Box together following a pilot in the retailer's hometown of Bentonville, Arkansas, last spring involving more than 100 households. HomeValet has also been testing the units in the Washington, D.C., and Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, areas, as well as in Indiana, where it has facilities, Simms said.
Walmart's Smart Box integration is the latest step for the retailer in offering unattended delivery. Earlier this month, Walmart announced it will bring its in-home service, which has workers deliver groceries directly into customer's refrigerators, to 30 million U.S. households this year.
Walmart orders will be automatically linked with HomeValet's platform, allowing the retailer's delivery personnel to unlock a customer's Smart Box on their own. In addition, HomeValet has developed software that other retailers can use to integrate their e-commerce systems with HomeValet's, according to Simms.
Customers can use a mobile app to configure the internet-connected units to accept deliveries from other retailers by setting them to unlock automatically at a preset time, Simms said. The company will provide customers with signage to direct delivery personnel to place items in the unit.
HomeValet's unattended delivery unit contains a camera that provides customers with a recording of each delivery. The camera activates whenever the box is unlocked, and shoppers will be able to access a history of their deliveries, Simms said.
Simms said HomeValet plans to position its box as a delivery tool for retailers beyond the grocery industry, adding that the company sees the device as a way to also automate e-commerce returns.
"Grocery [delivery] is really hard, and we figured if you can solve grocery with the various features and attributes that we bring with our box, a lot of these other opportunities become available," he said.