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Remember when you had to go down to the mailbox or onto your doorstep to pick up items you ordered online?
If a program Walmart is testing takes off, people may be asking that question within the next several years. The program will allow delivery drivers to leave packages inside a customer’s home, and groceries in the fridge or freezer, TechCrunch reports.
“…we want to do more in the future by delivering groceries and other orders in whatever location works best for our customers – inside the house for some and in the fridge/freezer in the garage for others,” said Sloan Eddleston, Vice President of Walmart’s eCommerce Strategy & Business Operations, in the official announcement.
When the delivery driver arrives at a participant’s home, he will enter a one-time passcode on an August Home smart lock to gain entry. Walmart says customers will be able to watch the driver enter and move around in their houses via a video feed on their smartphones. When the driver exits the home, the door will lock automatically.
Walmart has hired same-day delivery service Deliv to perform the deliveries themselves. Sam’s Club, a Walmart affiliate, partnered with Deliv in March 2016 to test a grocery delivery program.
This most recent pilot program will be available in Silicon Valley to a select group of August Home users who have chosen to participate. As TechCrunch points out, if the program is successful, Walmart may expand the list of supported smart-home providers beyond August Home.
TechCrunch further notes that Walmart has not indicated how long the program will run, nor whether the company intends to expand the trial to locales outside of Silicon Valley.
Walmart says it has designed the test to gauge how much customers are willing to pay for the service. The company has yet to disclose a pricing model.
Walmart has partnered with smart-home companies to enhance delivery operations in the past. In June, online retailer jet.com, which Walmart acquired in August 2016, teamed with Latch to install high-tech lockboxes on the front doors of 1,000 apartment buildings. Among other functions, the system allows customers to remotely grant access to their apartment complex so that drivers can deliver packages even when the customer is not home.
In its continued effort to keep pace with online retail giants like Amazon, Walmart has experimented with other augmentations to its delivery operations, TechCrunch notes. The company offered a discount to customers who had online orders shipped to Walmart stores, and tried allowing in-store employees to deliver packages from the store to customers’ homes.
In emulation of Amazon Prime, Walmart instituted a two-day shipping option that is free for rewards members.
In June 2016, the company tested a system whereby Uber and Lyft drivers delivered groceries to customers’ homes. Customers ordered groceries online, paying a $7 to $10 delivery fee. Then, a Walmart employee culled the requested items from the shelves, placed them in a bag, and called an Uber or Lyft driver to pick the order up from the store and deliver it to the customer’s home.
Meanwhile, Amazon—arguably Walmart’s chief competitor—is making its own efforts to cut delivery times. Through that company’s Prime Now program, customers can have tens of thousands of items delivered to their doors in less than an hour.
Amazon also offers grocery delivery and one-hour restaurant delivery through its Prime membership program
Moreover, the company is testing autonomous drones that can deliver items weighing under five pounds in 30 minutes or less. Last December, as part of a pilot program in the UK, Amazon completed its first drone delivery. The company says it is working with regulators to get Prime Air, as the service is called, off the ground around the world.
Featured image via Hurlburt Field