Smart locks are not new technology. Neither are home security cameras and food delivery, but Walmart has found a way to pair them all together to make their grocery delivery services that much more appealing. Customers that could have just as easily bought from Shoprite, Acme, or [insert any other local grocery chain] now have one extra level of convenience to weigh in the purchase process - not needing to be home.
This service is not available for everyone. It starts at around $150 just to get the August.com smart lock for the front door. Then you will also need to decide what kind of camera coverage you need to feel comfortable with letting strangers into your home. If you have the money to shell out for the systems and are the type of person that does not have time to do your own grocery shopping, you probably don't want to be bound to your home for the groceries to be delivered.
The grocery wars have been heating up considerably over the last six months. Amazon's purchase of Whole Foods (disclosure: Profyts has worked on Whole Foods projects) back in June was a direct attempt at cutting into Walmart's territory. Walmart struck back in August by partnering with Google to make their grocery's available on Google Express. Considering the grocery industry is estimated to be about $800 billion in annual spending in the United States, it's easy to see how even the slightest advantage could lead to a windfall of profits for either company. Online sales across Walmart grew 73% year over year in Q2 of 2017 with groceries at 26% of their total US ecommerce sales, so they are clearly doing something right.
Amazon is a tech company first and a grocery store second. Walmart may have the upper hand at the moment, but be on the lookout for a "Return of the Bezos" article in the coming months. They recently had a patent granted that would allow them to deploy blimp warehouses ("That's no moon...") over major cities filled with products to be delivered via a swarm of drones. Would you feel better or worse having a drone in your house delivering your food? What if they didn't need to enter your house? Drones have an advantage over humans: they can go anywhere. Amazon could develop a method for delivering groceries that wouldn't even need the drone to gain access to the rest of your house. They could bring your delivery down a chimney, just like Santa Claus. The chimney could have an access door into the back of your fridge that would let the drone put away your groceries and leave. This would be a huge advantage over Walmart because there is nothing special about it. It can be easily replicated by direct competitors.
You can expect to see this level of service appear in other industries in the next few years as smart lock technology becomes more widely adopted. Whether you are getting construction done on your kitchen or need your furniture delivered, you can give professionals access to your house today if you have the locks installed and a camera system to keep them in check. The only thing Walmart did was make the experience seamless from within their purchase process. Any ecommerce business could build the same thing with a smartphone app and a few backend integrations.