Wal-Mart wants to send people into your house to stock the fridge when you're not home

The Washington Post

Delivery workers who drop off Wal-Mart groceries may soon also bring them into your kitchen and unload them into your refrigerator, even if you're not home.

The world's largest retailer announced Friday that is testing a delivery program in Silicon Valley that would allow customers to use smart-home technology to remotely open the door for delivery workers and watch a livestream of the delivery by linking their phones with home security cameras.

Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart said the in-home delivery service is aimed at busy families that don't have time to stop at a store or unpack their groceries.

"As the homeowner, I'm in control of the experience the entire time," Sloan Eddleston, vice president of Wal-Mart e-commerce strategy and business operations, wrote in a blog post on Friday. "I'm watching the entire process from start to finish from my home security cameras. As I watch the associate exit my front door, I even receive confirmation that my door has automatically been locked."

The move comes as Wal-Mart and Amazon.com accelerate the race to win over customers by offering ever-more convenient technology.

Earlier this week, the Financial Times reported that Amazon is working on a home security camera system that would allow customers to remotely access video feeds to see, for instance, when packages are delivered to their homes. (Jeffrey P. Bezos, the founder and chief executive of Amazon, owns the Washington Post.)

The $600-billion grocery market has been a particular point of competition following Amazon's $13.7-billion takeover of Whole Foods Market last month. Wal-Mart, currently the country's largest grocer, announced this week that it would become the first retailer to allow customers to use food stamps to pay for online grocery orders.

The company also recently announced that it was partnering with Google to allow shoppers to buy its products by speaking to Google Home devices.

Wal-mart's latest partnership, with smart-technology company August Home and same-day delivery service Deliv, is still in the early stages, according to Wal-Mart spokesman Ravi Jariwala. He added that it was not clear how long the current test would last, or how the program might evolve.

“This may not be for everyone,” Eddleston wrote, “but we want to offer customers the opportunity to participate in tests today and help us shape what commerce will look like in the future.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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