Retail giant Walmart is continuing to flex its e-commerce fulfillment muscle, announcing today that it will expand its in-home delivery service from 6 million to 30 million U.S. households by the end of the year.
That investment will require the Bentonville, Arkansas-based company to hire more than 3,000 associate delivery drivers this year and to build out its fleet of all-electric delivery vans.
Under the program, Walmart employees will deliver fresh groceries, everyday essentials, and other goods directly into customers’ homes, without requiring consumers to be home at the time. Delivery drivers will place items straight into buyers’ kitchen or garage refrigerators, and pick up any Walmart.com returns to activate the reverse logistics leg of the journey.
Launched in 2019, the “InHome Delivery” service costs $19.95 per month or $148 per year, which is slightly more than its retail rival Amazon.com’s Prime service, sold for $12.99 per month or $119 per year.
For that upfront fee, consumers who place their orders on the Walmart App can select InHome as their preferred delivery option, prompting a Walmart employee to visit the customer’s home and unlock their door or garage by accessing a smart entry system with a one-time access code. Workers then record the entire visit with a camera attached to their vest, and ensure hygiene by wearing a face mask, sanitizing surfaces, and locking up afterwords. Shoppers who don’t yet have smart locks on their doors can also offer access through a garage keypad or purchase a new smart lock from Walmart for $49.95.
According to Walmart, its InHome delivery service is the newest delivery option to be added to its last mile delivery strategy, which includes creating a low-cost last mile delivery network focused on density, speed, and sustainability. For example, Walmart also offers delivery and Express delivery on some 160,000 items from more than 3,400 Walmart stores, reaching 70% of the U.S. population. And it has opened up that network to third party retailers through Walmart GoLocal, a white-label delivery-as-a-service business.
The expansion follows other recent e-commerce investments such as Walmart’s December announcement that it would build e-commerce fulfillment centers in Utah and Tennessee.