Amazon will offer a smart-home system that allows drivers to deliver packages inside homes. Amazon Key comes a month after Walmart announced a test of in-home grocery delivery.

Amazon.com Inc. wants customers to come home to packages delivered inside their doors.

Amazon, No. 1 in the Internet Retailer 2017 Top 500, today said it will offer a service called Amazon Key, available only to Prime customers, that will allow delivery drivers to place shoppers’ Amazon orders inside their homes, even when no one is home.

In addition to being a Prime customer, a shopper who wants to use this service must own an Amazon Key In-Home Kit, a smart-home system that starts at $249.99 and comes with an Amazon Cloud Cam and one of several smart locks made by Yale and Kwikset.

Amazon Key works without keys or pass codes. Customers will receive a notification through the Amazon Key app letting them know when a driver is getting close. Delivery drivers request access to a home using an Amazon handheld scanner after knocking first, and Amazon confirms that it’s the correct delivery person, though it did not spell out how it verifies the driver’s identity. If a customer is home and does not want an in-home delivery, she can opt to block access and the driver will leave the order outside. The shopper can also opt to block access if she is not home and doesn’t want the driver entering her home. Customers can watch the delivery occur via the internet-connected camera.

“Amazon Key gives customers peace of mind knowing their orders have been safely delivered to their homes and are waiting for them when they walk through their doors,” said Amazon vice president of delivery technology Peter Larsen.

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If a customer has a home security system, she must first disable it to allow for in-home delivery because Amazon Key is not integrated with home security systems, Amazon says.

The service will be available Nov. 8 in 37 major markets initially, including Atlanta, Chicago and Los Angeles. Customers will not have to pay extra for in-home delivery. The Cloud Cam that comes in the Amazon Key package also will be sold as a standalone device for $120. Much like Google’s Nest Cam, it allows for remote monitoring of homes, two-way communication and web-based video recording.

Customers have 30 days to file a claim and must provide visual proof if their home is damaged or they are otherwise unhappy with an in-home delivery, according to Amazon.

The service is available only to Prime customers, who typically pay a $99 annual or $10.99 monthly fee for perks that include free two-day delivery. Securities research firm Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) recently estimated that Amazon now has 90 million Prime members in the U.S., up 38.5% from 65 million this time last year and up 5.9% from an estimated 85 million at the end of the second quarter, June 30.

 

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Amazon’s announcement comes a month after Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (No. 3) announced it is testing a similar offering.

Walmart is piloting an in-home online grocery delivery service in Northern California’s Silicon Valley in conjunction with August Home, a keyless home-entry technology provider, and same-day delivery service Deliv.

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Walmart’s offering allows shoppers to order groceries on Walmart’s site and send a Deliv driver a one-time pass code to open the shopper’s smart lock if the shopper is not home to receive the order. Walmart last month said it is testing several prices for the in-home delivery service, but a spokesman declined to specify them. As with Amazon Key, Walmart shoppers can watch the delivery as it happens via their internet-connected home security cameras.

In addition to parcel deliveries, Amazon Key opens the door to future integration with in-home service providers, such as cleaners and pet sitters. The company intends to give homeowners the ability to let third parties enter, conduct their business and depart with the house fastened up securely. While the work is taking place, the customer can track and talk to the hired hands using Amazon’s Cloud Cam.

Brands already signed on to enter dwellings via Amazon Key include ServiceMaster Global Holdings Inc.’s Merry Maids and animal caregiver Rover.com.

Friends and family will also be permitted into people’s homes. Using Amazon’s Key app, a pre-authorized person can be allowed in while the owner retains control over the frequency of entrances and the lengths of their stay. Amazon did not clarify how it determines the length of a stay.

The home security market is growing rapidly. Statista estimates that global smart-home camera shipments will almost quintuple to 25.1 million by 2019. The research firm estimates the broader market for all smart-home devices will be worth $40.9 billion worldwide by 2020.

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Bloomberg contributed to this story.

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