Walmart is piloting smart boxes that will keep grocery deliveries fresh as more people turn to online ordering

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HomeValet on porch

  • Walmart is partnering with HomeValet to facilitate deliveries of perishable groceries.
  • HomeValet creates smart box that are divided into sections for frozen, refrigerated, and pantry items to keep them fresh.
  • The delivery program will launch as a pilot, available to Walmart customers in Bentonville, Arkansas, where the retail giant is headquartered.
  • Grocery delivery has spiked since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic last year: Nearly 80% of consumers surveyed bought groceries online during the pandemic, and over 50% said that they ordered grocery delivery more often than before the pandemic.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Walmart announced Tuesday that it will partner with smart-box company HomeValet to facilitate deliveries of perishable groceries.

The pilot starts this spring in Bentonville, Arkansas, where the retail giant is headquartered. Customers participating in the program will get a HomeValet smart box for their front door or porch. Inside, the boxes are divided into sections for frozen, refrigerated, and pantry items to keep them fresh. The delivery person will be able to communicate with the HomeValet to unlock it and leave deliveries.

Read more: The founders of grocery delivery platform Dumpling mined user feedback and raised $6.5 million to make gig-economy workers feel heard and take on tech giants like Uber and DoorDash

Like with Walmart’s current delivery platform, customers order groceries in the store’s app and schedule a delivery time. The added benefit here is that groceries can potentially be delivered at any time, even if the homeowner is out. For Walmart, the delivery window is expanded far beyond what it was. “While we don’t have plans to do 24/7 delivery today, it certainly has a nice ring to it” Walmart said in a statement.

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Grocery delivery has exploded since the COVID-19 pandemic kept many people home in the spring. Grocery app Instacart saw downloads increase by more than 200% between February and March according to Statista, and takeout delivery service DoorDash expanded into grocery delivery over the summer. Amazon grocery deliveries tripled year over year.

Retail data analysis company Inmar Intelligence found that found nearly 80% of consumers surveyed bought groceries online during the pandemic, and over 50% said that they ordered grocery delivery more often than before the pandemic.

COVID-19 and stay-at-home orders are still underway in the US, experts predict that the shift might be permanent even after things return to normal. “This has definitely been an inflection point in terms of adoption” Jack O’Leary, a senior analyst at Edge by Ascential told Insider in April. “It’s going to accelerate a trend that was already ongoing.”

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