Operations

Walmart+ adds 'direct-to-fridge' delivery service

It comes as Walmart is expanding the InHome service to more cities.

A Walmart associate stocking a fridge

InHome is coming to more homes. (Photo courtesy of Walmart)

Walmart is adding a service that offers delivery straight to a customer’s kitchen as part of its membership program.

Walmart’s InHome service will now be offered as part of Walmart+, the company announced on Wednesday. There's no limit to how many times customers can use the service, or a requirement to tip.

It’s effectively an upgrade for Walmart+, as Walmart said the InHome service will be available for an additional $7 a month or $40 per year. The base price for Walmart+ is s $12.95 a month, or $98 a year.

Walmart is also growing the geographic footprint of InHome, aiming to reach more than 30 million US households this year. With Wednesday’s announcement, Walmart said it is expanding to Miami, Tampa, Orlando, Dallas, Austin, San Jose and San Francisco. This nearly doubles the footprint of locales where the service is available.

Launched in 2019, InHome is designed to provide grocery delivery for customers, even if they aren’t at home. Shoppers order groceries online. Then, a full-time Walmart associate enters their home via smartlock or garage door opener. (For those who don’t want to have someone enter their home, a doorstep delivery option is available).

Offering the “direct-to-fridge” service allows Walmart to make delivery more convenient. At the same time, it relies in part on the trust of consumers, who must be willing to provide entry into their homes.

By combining the two services, InHome will be added to the growing list of Walmart+ perks. Initially, the membership included free shipping and delivery, and scan-and-go service for in-store shopping. This year, it expanded a fuel discount to 10-cents a gallon and extended it to gas stations beyond Walmart, offered six free months of Spotify and held members-only deals events such as the recent Walmart+ Weekend. Walmart hasn’t yet revealed membership numbers for Walmart+, but leaders have said it is a key part of its growing digital business.

Walmart said it is making the move to combine the programs under one membership in response to asks from consumers who want to complete all of their ordering and delivery steps in one place.

“When Walmart+ members ask for something, we work around the clock to make it happen for them,” said Chris Cracchiolo, SVP and GM of Walmart+, in a statement. “Our members want options and a shopping experience that is easy to navigate and accommodates their individual needs, while saving them time and money—this is true now more than ever.”

Walmart said the move to bolster Walmart+ is among the steps it is taking to continue to invest in its ecommerce business, which grew 38% over the last two years.

Surcharges for suppliers coming

Elsewhere in its business, Walmart is planning to add fees to account for rising costs of fuel and transportation. According to Reuters, the company sent a memo to suppliers – or, the vendors that produce and provide goods sold by the company – detailing two new fees that will be enacted in August for those who use Walmart services to transport goods to warehouses or stores. The fees include a fuel surcharge, and a new “collect pickup charge” that will be calculated as a percentage of the cost of foods received.

Walmart is among many retailers facing rising costs during the current period of 40-year-high inflation. The company cited fuel costs as among the reasons it was cutting its full-year profit outlook in its first quarter earnings report.

It’s not alone among those upping fees, either. Amazon enacted a 5% fuel surcharge on third-party sellers in April, saying at the time that it intended the fee to be temporary.

At Walmart, the new charges “allow us to share cost accountability with our Collect suppliers, helping to enable us to meet our everyday low price commitment to our customers," the retailer’s memo said.

As costs rise, it grows more likely that they will be passed down the supply chain.


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