Walmart piloting temperature-controlled grocery delivery boxes

Customers in Arkansas will be the first to test out the technology

Walmart has teamed up with HomeValet to tackle a problem in the grocery delivery business: making sure food stays fresh.

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On Tuesday, Walmart announced it was piloting temperature-controlled, HomeValet-powered smart boxes as it works to gain an edge over competitors in the on-demand food delivery market -- a service that has surged since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

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This spring, participating customers in Bentonville, Ark., will be the first to test out the boxes, which will be placed outside their home.

(Walmart)

The boxes, powered by an Internet of Things (IoT) platform, have three temperature-controlled zones to help store frozen, refrigerated and pantry items, Tom Ward, senior vice president of customer products at Walmart, said in a blog post.

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Ward projected that the technology will be beneficial for customers as well as "Walmart’s last-mile delivery efforts."

The boxes will eliminate the need for customers to be home when the groceries are being delivered, he said.

"This gives customers the ability to receive secure, contactless deliveries with the peace of mind knowing their grocery items will stay fresh," Ward said.

At the same time, it will give the retail behemoth the opportunity to deliver items 24 hours a day, seven days a week, if they chose to do so.

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Walmart launched its grocery delivery service in 2018. Since then, the company has been upping its offerings from expanding its two-hour Express Delivery service to teaming up with Instcart to offer same-day delivery in select markets.

Most recently, the company has joined forces with Flytex to test drone technology to deliver groceries and self-driving car company Cruise to test out autonomous grocery delivery.