This spring, Walmart will start a pilot program letting customers receive grocery deliveries to temperature-controlled smart coolers they can install on their porches or anywhere outside their houses that has a power outlet.
The boxes, provided by Tysons, Virginia, company HomeValet, have chilled compartments for frozen and refrigerated food, as well as a section for pantry-style groceries that can be stored at room temperature. They’re internet-enabled and designed to unlock when a courier approaches so that food can be stowed.
The HomeValet coolers should be able to let Walmart customers receive deliveries even when they’re not available to answer the door, said Tom Ward, Walmart’s SVP of customer product, in a blog post Tuesday.
“For customers, they don’t need to plan their day around when their grocery delivery will be made,” wrote Ward. “For Walmart, it presents an opportunity to deliver items 24 hours a day, seven days a week. While we don’t have plans to do 24/7 delivery today, it certainly has a nice ring to it.”
The pilot program will take place in Bentonville, Arkansas, where Walmart is headquartered.
Walmart is already the nation’s largest grocery retailer, and it offers unlimited grocery deliveries included with its Walmart+ subscription program, essentially its answer to Amazon’s massively popular Prime. In a few cities, the company had been offering deliveries to customer fridges, with couriers accessing homes via smart locks, but in most places where it’s offered, that’s been switched to delivering to just inside people’s houses or garages thanks to the pandemic, CNBC reports.