(Bloomberg)—Amazon.com Inc., No. 1 in the 2020 Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000, is about to see whether shoppers wary of contact with package delivery drivers would rather let them into the garage instead.
The world’s largest online retailer said in a statement Thursday that it was expanding an in-garage delivery program for Prime subscribers to some 4,000 U.S. cities, up from 50 previously.
Amazon launched Amazon Key in late 2017, offering to deliver packages inside the homes of shoppers with smart front door locks by equipping delivery drivers with a one-time code to place packages just inside. The company touted the service as a convenient way to limit theft and launched a companion indoor camera to reassure shoppers. But the offer drew mixed reviews, and Amazon has since shifted the focus to garages, as well as car trunks, a service that was paused during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Shoppers need to have the myQ garage door opener control app. Amazon said Thursday it would also start delivering groceries from Whole Foods Market or Amazon Fresh inside customers’ garages. That service will go live first in select areas of Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle, with more cities planned, the company said.
Walmart Inc. (No. 3) launched a similar service in July 2019.
The retail giant announced it was testing an in-home grocery delivery service in September 2017 in Northern California’s Silicon Valley with August Home, a keyless home entry technology provider, and same-day delivery service Deliv. Now, the retail giant is ready to go live with a revamped, expanded version of that effort that relies on specifically trained, vetted Walmart associates, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon plans to announce Friday.
McMillon will announce that Walmart this fall will roll out InHome Delivery, a service that enables online shoppers to have their groceries delivered directly into their kitchen or garage fridge, even when they aren’t home. Tenured Walmart store associates will handle the deliveries when the service debuts in three cities: Kansas City, Missouri; Pittsburgh; and Vero Beach, Florida.
Later in the year, InHome also will allow 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.
Here’s how the service works: A consumer places her order on Walmart.com or Walmart’s mobile app and selects InHome Delivery, as well as a delivery date at checkout. A Walmart associate will gather her groceries and then, at the time of delivery, use an internet-connected lock technology at the customer’s house and a proprietary, wearable camera on the associate to access the customer’s home. The technology enables the shopper to control access into her home and allows her to watch the delivery remotely. However, a consumer can only use InHome Delivery if she has an internet-connected so-called smart lock.
U.S. shoppers aren’t too comfortable with these new types of deliveries. When asked about their comfort level with non-traditional delivery experiences, online shoppers ranked in-home delivery a 4.48 out of 10 and ranked in-garage delivery/package receptacles a 4.36 out of 10, according to a Digital Commerce 360/Bizrate Insights survey of 989 online shoppers in March 2020.