Walmart hopes to compete with companies such as Amazon to offer consumers the convenience of automated home deliveries. Now Vice President of Walmart eCommerce Strategy & Business Operations, Sloan Eddleston, says they want to take home delivery a step further. Groceries can be delivered — and put away — without you even being home.
The world’s largest retailer is testing a grocery delivery program in Silicon Valley that would not only allow shoppers to order their food online but would also allow a Walmart employee to come into your home and put the food away.
To deter employee theft or any other misconduct, Walmart says that the customer will get an alert as the employee enters the home and a live stream feed will then ensure that the homeowner has eyes on the delivery from start to finish.
“As the homeowner, I’m in control of the experience the entire time,” Eddleston explained 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.”
“This may not be for everyone,” Eddleston agreed. “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.”
Walmart executives realize that times have changed. People sleep in strangers’ beds with Airbnb, and with Uber or Lyft, people are getting into strangers’ cars all the time. These practices are now mainstream, but some people may draw the line at letting strangers into their home – especially when they are not home.
Albert Gidari, the Director of Privacy at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society raises some additional concerns about the practice.
“It might be creepy and intrusive, but there are also a lot of security risks and liability questions down the road: What happens if there’s a theft, or damage, or a dog bite? Will your homeowners’ policy cover that? How will insurance companies react to this?”
In theory, this could be a great idea that gives shoppers more flexibility than ever. On the other hand, it may be a hard sell to people who don’t like the idea of a stranger in their home.