Walmart expands its direct-to-fridge InHome delivery service to 30 million homes

Key Points
  • Walmart announced Wednesday that it will expand the availability of its InHome delivery service to 30 million households.
  • InHome allows employees wearing cameras to enter a customer's home to deliver groceries and other purchases or to pick up returns, even when the customer is not there.
  • Walmart also said it will hire 3,000 employees to support the service's expansion.

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Walmart expands direct-to-fridge 'InHome' delivery service
Walmart expands direct-to-fridge 'InHome' delivery service

Walmart is making a big bet on customers' desire for increased convenience, announcing Wednesday that its InHome delivery service will expand availability from 6 million to 30 million households, including in cities such as in Los Angeles and Chicago, by the end of this year.

InHome allows Walmart employees wearing cameras to enter a customer's home to deliver groceries and other purchases or to pick up returns, even when the customer is not there.

"Now you've got this ultimate convenience where you get home, the refrigerator is restocked and other items like video games, clothing, toiletries and other nonperishables are on the countertop," said Tom Ward, senior vice president of last-mile delivery at Walmart, in an interview. "We will also pick up your return if you start that process on the app; we will grab the item the next day and will process that return for you."

CNBC was given access to a demonstration of the InHome service in Glendale, Arizona. The process began with the delivery driver attaching a wearable camera. Every delivery can be viewed live or as a recording on the Walmart app. Then, the employee used a smart lock at the front door from Walmart to enter the home. Outfitted with protective coverings over their shoes, the delivery person carried the order inside in plastic bins, and placed items in the refrigerator or on the counter, as requested. Before leaving, all surfaces touched by the worker were wiped down and sanitized.

"I've used it for the last month and a half and have been very satisfied," said Erin Amini, a customer in Glendale. "We no longer have to go to the store. We feel safe with Covid. They wear masks, they sanitize and they are also always recording so we know what is happening while they are in our home."

Walmart is expanding InHome as the lines are blurring between delivery of groceries and services that bring a wide range of goods to homes on demand. Insider Intelligence estimates the grocery delivery market is a $93 billion opportunity, while Coresight Research projects quick-commerce could represent $25 billion in sales. This segment includes the likes of DoorDash as well as a growing number of start-ups.

Walmart's InHome service costs $19.95 per month with no additional fees, and it's part of a growing trend of "delivery as a service." Other companies in the space include:

  • Amazon Fresh grocery delivery, which is included in a $12.99 per month Prime membership.
  • Instacart Express, which costs $9.99 a month and offers free delivery for orders over $35 with lower service fees.
  • DoorDash, which offers a DashPass subscription for $9.99 a month. Subscribers must have a minimum of $12 for restaurant orders. DoorDash also makes deliveries from retailers like 7-Eleven and CVS.

Walmart said it will hire 3,000 employees to support its InHome expansion, giving them real-world and virtual reality training. They will be paid about 9% more than Walmart's average wage of $16.40 an hour. The company's 3,700 stores will be used as fulfillment centers and InHome delivery drivers will operate electric vehicles as part of the company's goal of a zero emissions logistics fleet by 2040.

"They'll also deliver Walmart packages, they'll deliver Walmart GoLocal client packages, and they'll do InHome delivery. It's making the best of all these assets that we're putting together in a way that's really sustainable," Ward said.

Walmart initially launched InHome in 2019 as a pilot in Kansas City, Pittsburgh and Vero Beach, Florida, and it's since expanded in northwest Arkansas, Atlanta, Phoenix and Washington, D.C. The company declined to say how many customers the service now has.

"What we've learned in the years we've been testing our InHome proposition is that customers love the convenience of having the items that they've ordered put in their fridge, their freezer, or left on their countertop, or in the garage when they come home. And they can just set and forget, and really do the things they want to spend their time doing," Ward added.

Walmart is the nation's largest grocer by revenue. It has used the category to drive frequent use of its stores, website and services by focusing on convenience and encouraging customers to buy other items, such as apparel, electronics and more, when replenishing the fridge with a gallon of milk or getting ingredients for dinner.

The big-box retailer is also the nation's leader in click and collect, a service that allows shoppers to place online orders and pick up purchases in the store or parking lot. One in every four dollars that Americans spent on click and collect in 2021 went to Walmart, according to a recent estimate by Insider Intelligence.

"We think there is no one right answer in the last-mile equation," Ward said. "We want to experiment and then when we see those things that really resonate with our customers we want to scale out to as many people as we possibly can as fast as we can."