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Walmart announced yesterday that it will team with a company called Home Valet " to pilot a new solution that could eventually allow the retailer to deliver groceries to customers’ homes 24 hours per day," TechCrunch reports.  The solution revolves around a "temperature-controlled smart box that’s placed outside the home. Customers’ groceries can be delivered, contact-free, to the secure box and kept cold at any time — even if the customer isn’t at home."

From Home Valet

According to the story, "The HomeValet boxes themselves are an Internet of Things platform that offers three temperature-controlled zones, making them capable of storing frozen, refrigerated and pantry items. The boxes communicate with the delivery provider’s device, which gives them secure access to the smart box at the time of the delivery to place the items inside."

TechCrunch also reports that the boxes "disinfect the exposed surfaces of delivered items as well as the inside of the box itself, in between deliveries, using UVC light.  This could appeal to customers who have been trying to reduce their exposure to the novel coronavirus by wiping down all their groceries before putting them away. (The HomeValet website, however, makes no specific claims about COVID-19. Instead, it simply says the UV-C LED disinfection method it uses can create 'inhospitable environments to microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, molds and other pathogens.')"

In the beginning, the Walmart test will be limited to northwest Arkansas and will be invitation-only;  Walmart will reach out to existing delivery customers to offer them the opportunity of participating in the pilot.

KC's View:

If you go onto the Home Valet site, it makes clear that while it would love to do business with retailers that will make the smart boxes part of their value proposition, it also is willing to work with third-party courier services that will make the boxes part o their value proposition, and even directly with shoppers.

I have to say that I love this idea, and I would expect that we'll see a number of competitors emerging in the space.  This is necessary infrastructure in a world that is more and more delivery-centric.