It seems that when it comes to sourcing their own groceries, consumers’ willingness to sacrifice privacy for convenience may far exceed what many grocers so far imagine. Walmart just announced a major expansion of its program that delivers groceries to consumers’ refrigerators, a program similar to the program Amazon currently offers through Key In-Garage deliveries, providing the opportunity to equip consumers’ homes with smart technology.
On Wednesday (January 5), the largest US grocer said it would fivefold the scope of the program. Currently, InHome’s direct-to-refrigerator service is available to 6 million consumers, and the 3,000-driver expansion of the program’s workforce aims to increase that number to 30 million consumers.
Read more: Walmart Employs 3K Drivers To Expand Direct-to-Fridge Grocery Delivery From InHome
“We at InHome have worked in select markets for the past two years and have found it to be an ideal solution for customers who want to live their lives without worrying about getting to the store or coming home to accept delivery,” Tom Ward, Senior Vice President of Melt at Walmart US, in statment.
The program, through which Walmart partners enter consumers’ homes by entering a one-time code into smart locks in garages or front doors, a video-recorded process that a consumer can review, incentivizes shoppers working away from home to deliver groceries. Purchasing smart home technology from Walmart, giving the retailer access to information about more of their habits as well as new opportunities to connect with those customers.
Amazon appears to be seeing positive results with a similar program, although other programs of this type have been less successful. For example, in late October, the retailer shut down its trunk delivery program, Key In-Car Delivery, with a company spokesperson saying Amazon instead aims to ramp up in-garage delivery efforts.
“While our plan was to reactivate in-vehicle connectivity as soon as possible, it will remain on hold indefinitely,” the company told Prime members at the time.
Related news: Amazon shuts down trunk delivery service
After launching the Key by Amazon In-Garage Grocery Delivery program in November 2020 in five cities, the company announced in April 2021 that it was expanding the service by several orders of magnitude to reach 5,000 cities and towns in the United States. At the time, Pete Gerstberger, president of Key by Amazon, said those who tried it “loved the service.” With many consumers accustomed to ordering groceries for delivery during quarantine returning to the office, the allure of such a program is clear.
The market opportunity is great. Findings from the PYMNTS study Bringing Economics to Me: How Online Markets and Aggregators Drive Multi-Channel Commerce, created in collaboration with Fiserv’s Carat, which surveyed more than 5,200 US adults about their purchasing habits, shows that 57% of consumers use Digital channels for grocery shopping. In addition, 46% reported that they were purchasing more groceries online than they did before March 2020.
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However, research from PYMNTS’ What Consumers Expect from Grocery Shopping Experiences, created in collaboration with ACI Worldwide, which surveyed more than 2,300 grocery shoppers in the United States about their buying behaviors, found that Walmart’s popularity was actually declining. Between October 2020 and June 2021, an eight-month period, the share of shoppers who reported shopping primarily at Walmart decreased from 39% to 31%, while the share of shopping at other large national chains grew from 28% to 39%. Perhaps, with moves like this, targeting the evolving needs of convenience-seeking consumers, the grocer will be able to recoup some of those losses.
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