The service enables online shoppers who have internet-connected locks to have their groceries delivered directly into their kitchen or garage fridge, even when they aren't home.

After more than two years of testing, Walmart Inc. on Tuesday launched InHome Delivery service, the retailer’s much-hyped, in-home grocery delivery service.

The retailer first offered a glimpse of the service in September 2017 when it announced it was running an in-home grocery delivery test in Northern California’s Silicon Valley with August Home, a keyless home entry technology provider, and same-day delivery service Deliv.

Now, a revamped version of the retail giant’s service is live in three markets—Kansas City (in both Missouri and Kansas); Pittsburgh; and Vero Beach, Florida. Unlike the original test, the service now relies on specifically trained, vetted Walmart employees. The service enables online shoppers who have Walmart install either a Level Lock internet-connected lock or GoControl Smart Garage Door Controller to have their groceries delivered directly into their kitchen or garage fridge, even when they aren’t home.

Consumers can check on InHome.Walmart.com to see if their address is eligible for the service. If it is available, they can then select either their kitchen or garage fridge as their delivery spot. The service requires shoppers purchase an internet-connected lock that costs $49.95, which includes free installation. Once the lock is installed, shoppers can receive unlimited deliveries for an introductory price of $19.95 per month with a $30 minimum basket size. To drive shoppers to try out the service, the retailer is offering the first month of service for free.

After a shopper places her delivery order, Walmart can use the internet-connected lock to grant its employee one-time access to the shopper’s home during a designated delivery window; once the employee leaves the home she cannot open the door again. The consumer can then monitor and watch in real time or via a recorded video as the employee completes the delivery.

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While Walmart’s initial attempt to offer in-home delivery was a collaborative effort with August Home and Deliv, Walmart now owns the InHome Delivery process “end-to-end,” a spokeswoman told Digital Commerce 360’s Internet Retailer earlier this year. In doing so, Walmart aims to overcome some notable hurdles, including many consumers’ reluctance to allow delivery drivers to enter their homes; a 2017 Morning Consult poll found that 68% of consumers were uncomfortable with letting delivery drivers into their homes, with 15% saying they were “somewhat uncomfortable” and 53% saying they were “very uncomfortable” with it. And a 2017 Internet Retailer survey found that only 22.1% of respondents said that, if available, they would take advantage of Walmart’s in-home grocery delivery service. Walmart believes that giving shoppers the ability to watch associates in their home will relieve their anxieties. The Walmart spokeswoman also noted the associates handling the deliveries have undergone extensive background checks and training to ensure a safe delivery.

The service is “disruptive,” she said, noting that “other disruptive services out there like home rental and furniture delivery and set-up services that before seemed hard to imagine are now the norm.”

“With InHome Delivery, we’re putting more well-deserved time in the hands of our customers,” writes Bart Stein, Walmart’s senior vice president, membership and InHome, in a blog post. “Take Laura, a mom of three in Kansas City with a full-time job as a graphic designer. Laura loves baking banana bread with her kids but doesn’t have enough time to shop for the ingredients after work and get it out of the oven before bedtime. Now, with InHome Delivery, Laura can order all the ingredients she needs and have them delivered directly into her fridge while she’s at work—no more late-night trips to the store or taking time out of Sunday afternoons with her family.”

Eventually, Walmart plans to extend the breadth of the service by allowing consumers to return items they ordered on Walmart’s ecommerce site or app. Shoppers can leave the item they want to return on their counter, and the associate will return it for them.

The launch of InHome Delivery comes amid a time of transition for Walmart, No. 3 in the Internet Retailer 2019 Top 1000. Last week, Greg Foran, who helped transform the retailer’s U.S. stores, announced he is leaving the retailer on Nov. 1 to be CEO of his native New Zealand’s airline New Air New Zealand. Meanwhile, Walmart-owned Bonobos is laying off a number of employees as part of Walmart’s broader push to rein in its ecommerce losses, which are expected to reach $1.7 billion this year, according to Morgan Stanley estimates.

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Walmart also recently announced plans to sell the assets of digitally native women’s fashion retailer ModCloth to Go Global Retail, a brand investment platform that has worked with companies such as VF Corp. and Billabong. Walmart also is reportedly considering selling or spinning off JetBlack, the text-based concierge shopping service that was the first business to emerge from its internal incubation arm.

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