Walmart Inc. (NYSE: WMT) wants to offer people the ultimate way to get perishable groceries. One of its workers will bring them to your house, open the door and then open the refrigerator to put in your order. It is another ratcheting up in the battle between the world’s largest retailer and Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN).
Walmart spelled out its reasoning by saying that since it already delivers groceries, and also offers grocery pickup, delivery to refrigerators is the next level of service. Its grocery pickup will operate out of 3,100 stores by the end of 2019. Its delivery service will operate out of 1,600.
The official announcement comes from CEO Doug McMillon and shows the importance the new plan has for Walmart. It will call the program InHome Delivery. Walmart spelled out how the system will work:
Customers place a grocery order and then select InHome Delivery and a delivery day at checkout – we take it from there!
Customers can then go about their days while a Walmart associate takes care of their grocery shopping for them – from food aisle to fridge.
At the time of delivery, associates will use smart entry technology and a proprietary, wearable camera to access the customer’s home – allowing customers to control access into their homes and giving them the ability to watch the deliveries remotely.
The program will begin in the fall in Kansas City, Missouri; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Vero Beach, Florida. Walmart did not say why it picked these three cities.
Groceries are among Walmart’s single largest categories of products and services. It competes with both Amazon (which owns Whole Foods) and Kroger (the largest grocery chain in America). Amazon has used Whole Foods as leverage to move further into the grocery business. It is one way Amazon means to strengthen the breadth of its e-commerce offerings. Walmart wants to defend its grocery turf and extends its online competition with Amazon with its grocery delivery tactics. Walmart’s e-commerce business in the United States rose 43% in the last quarter of 2018. Groceries were the primary engine of the improvement. However, it remains miles behind Amazon in overall online sales in the United States.
Walmart does have an army of workers to push its grocery strategy. It dominates the list of the largest employers in each state.