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InHome delivery's reach will expand by 10 million potential shoppers. Walmart launched InHome in 2019 and is touting the expansion as a boon for customer convenience.

Walmart has announced plans to expand its InHome delivery service to include 10 million more potential customers. Those shoppers will be found in markets including Southern California, Boston, Detroit, Minneapolis and Philadelphia.

Walmart launched InHome in 2019, piloting the program in Pittsburgh and Vero Beach, Florida, before expanding to other markets. The program uses specially trained delivery personnel who use one-time access codes via smart locks and record the entire delivery via a body camera.

Why Walmart is expanding InHome delivery

Walmart is touting the expansion as a boon for customer convenience.

“We understand that customers are busy and want to make sure that they can have a seamless shopping experience that fits their needs,” Haley McShane, general manager of InHome, Walmart U.S., said in a released statement.

Industry analysts have mixed views about the service. However, optimists view in-home delivery as an untapped market with considerable room to grow.

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Walmart is No. 2 in the Top 1000, Digital Commerce 360’s ranking of North America’s online retailers by web sales. It is also No. 9 in the Global Online Marketplaces Database, Digital Commerce 360’s ranking of top such marketplaces by third-party gross merchandise value (GMV).

Using InHome to drive customer loyalty

Carson Krieg is the Director of Global Alliances and Last Mile expert at the supply chain platform Project44. He says the slice of the retail audience that InHome appeals to is a niche one but is highly loyal. As such, it is something retailers prize.

“InHome offering doesn’t appeal to everyone,” Krieg said. “While the audience likely to leverage the delivery service is niche, it is a high-value and loyal one.”

He added that InHome could also appeal to elderly people or those with health conditions who can’t lug in and put away groceries.

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“This is a smart way to create a new subset of loyal customers,” he explained. “Other retailers will likely try to emulate the brand and incorporate similar services, especially as Walmart continues to dominate the grocery segment.”

Innovation and competition

Jeremy Bartlow, a consumer expert at London-based PA Consulting, says that while InHome may be expanding to 10 million new customers, he expects the service to initially appeal to only a small subset.

“Actual usage will likely be much lower shortly, similar to its drone-delivery pilot program,” Bartlow says, adding that a change in consumer behavior and trust is needed for it to catch on.

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“These are large barriers, but given the trend towards ultimate convenience for consumers, this may be a solid long-term play,” Bartlow says.

Competitors will also be hard-pressed to replicate the service, giving Walmart an advantage, at least for now.

“While competitors may attempt to replicate this strategy, only a few — perhaps two or three — could realistically compete with Walmart nationally,” Bartlow says.

The InHome concept was developed in Walmart’s now-shuttered Store No. 8 incubator. Store No. 8 was launched as an idea incubator to test new concepts. It was also meant to help keep pace with rivals, especially Amazon. The name was a reference to the early Walmart location where co-founder Sam Walton tried out new concepts.

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