Image source: TechChrunch
HomeValet, a startup based in the D.C. Metro area that has developed a temperature-controlled smart box for grocery deliveries, is now releasing its smart home product to the public and expanding its partnership with Walmart. In 2021, the company piloted its Smart Box with Walmart as a way for grocery delivery customers to keep their fresh and frozen items cold while also ensuring their deliveries remained secure until they could be retrieved.
The Smart Box will now be available to Walmart’s InHome grocery delivery subscribers in select markets beginning this month, according to the company. It will also be available to general consumers, who can preorder the box for $50. For InHome subscribers, the full product costs $499, so it’s a bit of an investment (financing is available through Affirm).
This is one of the major impediments to consumer adoption of grocery delivery. Because fresh and frozen items must be stored quickly after delivery, many people prefer to order groceries via curbside pickup or simply go shopping as usual. The issue also complicates grocery delivery logistics, as customers prefer to have their groceries delivered at specific times of the day when they can be home, such as after work or on weekends. This causes peaks and valleys in delivery requests throughout the days and weeks, rather than allowing the retailer to determine the best time to route and deliver specific orders.
So far, Walmart’s solution to this problem has been its In-home delivery service. This grocery subscription service, which Walmart announced last week would be available to 30 million households by the end of the year, allows Walmart employees to enter the home via a smart lock system and place groceries in the fridge and freezer on behalf of the customer. For security reasons, these deliveries are videotaped using vest-mounted cameras. However, not all customers will be comfortable with strangers entering their homes.
This is where the HomeValet Smart Box system may be useful. Instead of having Walmart delivery personnel enter their home, the delivery driver could access the smart box and place the groceries inside.
The HomeValet system is an internet-connected box with an uncooled side for pantry and other non-grocery items and a temperature-controlled cooler side with sections for both fresh and frozen items.
The Smart Box also comes with a companion mobile app that notifies you of deliveries and records video of the courier placing your order inside the box using the included Sony IMX322 1080p camera.
Image Source: SuprerMarket News
Customers can use the app to remotely lock and unlock the box as well as adjust the temperature. If integrated with a supported retailer’s system, such as Walmart’s InHome, the box can also automatically unlock for deliveries before they arrive.
Walmart InHome customers served by Florida stores a wise choice given the climate will receive the first shipments of the box in February 2022. Customers can buy the box for $499 at launch, plus a $10/month subscription service, with the first six months free.