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Walmart Wants To Put Groceries Into Your Fridge (#GotBitcoin?)

Retail giant to offer in-home grocery delivery in three cities later this year. Walmart Wants To Put Groceries Into Your Fridge (#GotBitcoin?)

Walmart Inc. is opening a new front in home-delivery services: carting milk, eggs and other groceries and leaving them in the fridge.

This fall, Walmart store workers in three cities will start delivering online grocery orders directly to refrigerators in shoppers’ homes and garages, the company said.

The workers will wear body cameras clipped to their chests, allowing customers to watch live streams of deliveries being made while they aren’t home. Workers will enter residences equipped with smartlocks, internet-connect devices that can be controlled remotely to unlock a door.

The service, dubbed Walmart InHome, marks the latest attempt by retailers to adjust to changing shopping habits and solve the last-mile delivery problem, especially for groceries.

Walmart, the country’s biggest grocery seller, and other chains already let customers pick up online orders in store parking lots or use crowdsourced services such as DoorDash Inc. and Instacart Inc. to fetch their orders.

Online purchases account for just 5% of the roughly $1 trillion U.S. food and consumer product market, according to Nielsen. But it is a fast-growing business that Walmart, Kroger Co. , Inc. and others are chasing.

Amazon offers a similar in-home delivery service for Prime members in 50 cities, called Key by Amazon. But drivers don’t deliver fresh groceries, and they leave items just inside a door, garage or the trunk of a car, not a refrigerator. Its Prime Now service also drops orders, including fresh groceries from Whole Foods, on doorsteps within hours.

Walmart’s new service will initially be offered in Kansas City, Mo.; Pittsburgh; and Vero Beach, Fla. Pricing will be announced in the fall, executives said. Walmart tested an in-home grocery-delivery service two years ago with a smartlock startup called August Home, but the trial ended last year, a spokeswoman said.

Walmart workers will need to be with the company for at least a year to make deliveries, said Bart Stein, who joined Walmart last year to test the concept after the retail behemoth purchased his now-defunct startup that aimed to sell a countertop frozen-yogurt machine.

Walmart tested the service in New Jersey for six months, said Mr. Stein. In tests, using Walmart workers to make deliveries while fitted with live cameras alleviated consumers’ trust concerns, he said. Walmart also added short biographical profiles of its delivery workers to the pilot service’s consumer app, which helped humanize them, Mr. Stein said: “Customers didn’t know who was coming into their homes, so we changed it.”

Not everyone embraces the concept at first, but just as people have gradually accepted renting out rooms in their homes through services like Airbnb Inc., “people are very quickly comfortable with it,” said Marc Lore, head of Walmart’s U.S. e-commerce business.

Eventually, delivery workers will also pick up products that need to be returned to Walmart, executives said.

Walmart didn’t say which smartlock the new service would require consumers to obtain, but the technology would be sold by Walmart, the spokeswoman said.

The Bentonville, Ark., retailer is working to grab market share in online grocery shopping to maintain its place as the country’s largest grocer. By the end of this fiscal year, Walmart plans to offer online grocery pickup from over 3,000 store parking lots and 1,600 stores that offer grocery delivery, mostly by joining with crowdsourced delivery firms.

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