Walmart Ramps Up Direct-to-Fridge Option to 30 Million Homes

Walmart Scales Up Direct-to-Fridge Offering to 30 Million Homes

Walmart Inc. is betting big on its service to deliver groceries directly into customers’ refrigerators.

The retailer’s InHome delivery option will become available to 30 million U.S. households by the end of the year, five times more than the current level, according to a company statement Wednesday. Walmart, which hasn’t disclosed how many customers use the service, plans to hire more than 3,000 drivers and build out a fleet of electric delivery vans to support the program.

The expanded availability signals Walmart’s confidence that Americans are ready to accept employees traipsing through their kitchens and garages in exchange for the convenience of not shopping for and putting away their own groceries. Walmart is vying with a range of grocery services from rivals such as Aldi Stores Ltd. and Inc. as millions of Americans turned to online shopping during the coronavirus pandemic.

Walmart has been testing the InHome service for more than two years with trials in Pittsburgh, northwest Arkansas and other locales. This year, it will become available in cities including Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston and Dallas. Amazon last year expanded its service delivering groceries into garages.

InHome customers can grant one-time access to Walmart employees by using a garage keypad, an existing smart lock or an InHome lock that costs about $50. The delivery service costs $19.95 a month or $148 a year. Employees earn an extra $1.50 an hour compared with most store roles.

Shares of Bentonville, Arkansas-based Walmart rose as much as 2.8% in New York, their biggest intraday gain since June 30.

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