On Friday of last week, retail titan Walmart announced that it’s piloting a rather inventive new delivery program. Retrieving groceries can be a chore for us harried busybodies, so Walmart has devised the ultimate solution to this problem: It will deliver groceries straight to your fridge when you aren’t home.
The program is the result of a partnership between Walmart, smart home lock company August Home, and same-day delivery service Deliv. It's got many moving parts: After you place an order on Walmart's site, a Deliv driver (who’s subjected to a rigorous screening process) will fetch your items and bring them to your home. If no one’s there to answer your door, the courier will have a one-time passcode to open an August smart lock and enter your house.
The courier will then carry the groceries to the kitchen and put them in the fridge. You don’t forfeit control, necessarily: As the transaction unfolds, you’re constantly getting phone notifications that the delivery is underway. August gives you the option of watching the process in real time through its mobile app as it's recorded by home security cameras.
This program is still in its embryonic stages, as Walmart is testing it out with August customers in Silicon Valley. As it stands, the project certainly toes quite an uneasy line between innovation and invasiveness. Walmart has taken the consumer desire for convenience to a vaguely dystopian degree. Opting in to the service requires a bucketload of capital for August’s home lock services and a lot of trust in a stranger. The idea may appeal to some constituencies more than others: Say, a set of folks who already have service workers, from cleaning crews to babysitters, visiting their homes when they aren’t there.
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For those of us who don’t fall within those demographics, I guess we’ll have to stick to lugging groceries home and sticking them in our fridges ourselves, no matter how crammed our schedules are.
What do you think of this program: Is it way too invasive or totally innovative? Make your voice heard in the comments.
Mayukh Sen is a James Beard Award-winning food and culture writer in New York. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Bon Appetit, and elsewhere. He won a 2018 James Beard Award in Journalism for his profile of Princess Pamela published on Food52.