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January 14, 2022
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Grocery delivery service is expanding across country, into home refrigerators


Photo courtesy of Walmart
HOME DELIVERY — Walmart this year is expanding the availability of its InHome delivery from 6 million to 30 million U.S. households. With this service, customers can have fresh groceries delivered directly into their homes and refrigerators. 

MADISON, Wis. — Demand for grocery delivery, especially since the pandemic began, has grown significantly, and retailers continue to innovate and add new services in hopes of attracting and retaining customers amid the current “homebody economy.”

While e-commerce among all grocery expanded during the pandemic, categories that traditionally had lower online presence — including dairy and other perishable fresh and frozen foods — saw a significant increase in consumer willingness to buy online, according to a report published last summer by global management consulting firm McKinsey & Co. A
McKinsey survey showed a 10% increase in consumers’ intent to use e commerce for dairy category purchases versus before COVID-19.

In its 2021 report on U.S. grocery retailing, global market research firm Mintel notes that 57% of adults reported buying more groceries online, and a majority planned on continuing to do so, even after the pandemic threat subsides. Moving forward, grocery retailers will need to look at improving delivery speeds with last-mile fulfillment processes, Mintel says, adding that some grocers may need to consider enlisting the help of outside partners, including tech companies, third-party delivery services and other retailers, to adjust quickly and manage economies of scale.

Tapping into this growing demand for grocery delivery and convenience, Walmart last week announced plans to scale up the availability of its InHome delivery from 6 million households to making it accessible to 30 million U.S. households by the end of 2022. To support this expansion, Walmart plans to hire more than 3,000 associate delivery drivers as well as build out a fleet of 100% all-electric delivery vans.

One unique aspect of Walmart’s InHome delivery service, which first launched in 2019, is that associates deliver fresh groceries and essentials directly into customers’ homes, including placing items straight into their kitchen or garage refrigerator.

“We’ve been operating InHome in select markets over the last two years and have found it is a perfect solution for customers who want to live their lives without worrying about making it to the store or being home to accept a delivery,” says Tom Ward, senior vice president, last mile, Walmart U.S. “Identifying ways to help our customers save time and money is our purpose, and nothing showcases that better than InHome delivery, which is why we’re excited to bring the convenience of InHome to even more customers in 2022.”

After a customer places an order on the Walmart app and selects InHome as their preferred delivery option, a highly-trained InHome associate completes the delivery, Walmart officials explain. The associate uses a one-time access code to unlock the customer’s door or garage through their InHome app, which pairs with smart entry technology. The app notifies the customer at every step, and a camera, worn on the associate’s vest, records the entire delivery, which customers have access to from their phones for up to a week after each delivery.

Walmart’s InHome Delivery service is $19.95 per month or $148 per year, with no additional fees, including tips, which are built into the membership price. Customers can extend one-time access to their InHome associate using an existing smart lock, a garage keypad or by purchasing a new smart lock from InHome for $49.95.

The expansion of Walmart’s InHome service follows a significant expansion Amazon announced in April 2021 of its Key by Amazon In-Garage Grocery Delivery. This service, which originally was launched in five cities in November 2020, now is available in more than 5,000 U.S. cities and towns. Key In-Garage Grocery Delivery can be used by millions of eligible Prime members to have their Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods Market groceries delivered securely and conveniently inside their garage, Amazon says.

The company adds that while customers relied on online grocery delivery services early in the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s clear they’ll continue to use grocery delivery due to its convenience. In a survey by Morning Consult commissioned by Amazon, nearly 70% of Americans reported that grocery delivery is beneficial when they don’t have time for a trip to the grocery store. Of the 54% of Americans who highlighted convenience as the most important benefit of grocery delivery, 77% reported saving time as a beneficial advantage.

Other national and regional grocery chains also recently have expanded delivery capacity and rolled out new delivery options to offer more convenience to consumers.

In November, Publix teamed up with online grocery platform Instacart to announce the expansion of Publix Quick Picks, allowing customers across Publix’s seven-state footprint in the Southeast to shop for fresh groceries, pantry and household essentials, meals, snacks and more for delivery in as fast as 30 minutes with Instacart Priority Delivery. Publix Quick Picks first launched in September in Tampa, Florida, and following a successful pilot, the companies expanded the service across Publix’s operating footprint ahead of the holiday season.

“Since launching Publix Quick Picks on Instacart, we’ve seen rapid customer adoption. Our store locations and wide assortment, combined with Instacart Priority Delivery in as fast as 30 minutes, creates a winning solution for our customers,” says Erik Katenkamp, Publix vice president omnichannel and application development.

“Our strong relationship with Instacart continues to unlock capabilities to meet the changing needs of our customers, and we look forward to continuing to grow our portfolio of time-saving services — like Publix Quick Picks — to give customers more ways to get what they need from Publix.”

The nation’s largest grocery retailer, Kroger, late last year began expanding and establishing new fulfillment centers across the country, powered by the Ocado Group, combining vertical integration, machine learning and robotics to improve its fast, fresh food delivery service.

“Kroger Delivery is a thriving part of our dynamic ecosystem and is transforming grocery e-commerce and meeting a range of customer needs through the introduction of first-of-its-kind technology in the U.S. developed by Ocado,” says Rodney McMullen, chairman and CEO, Kroger. “Kroger’s growing seamless ecosystem continues to scale, and we’re committed to doubling both our digital sales and profitability rate by the end of 2023, and Kroger Delivery will help us reach this target.”

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