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Walmart trials temperature-controlled smart box

USA: Supermarket retailer Walmart is to trial a home delivery service using a temperature-controlled smart box that can placed outside the home.

The grocery chain is partnering with HomeValet, the Virginia-based manufacturer of the internet-connected smart box. HomeValet’s SaaS solution connects online retailers and couriers with the Smart Box outside of the consumers’ homes. It enables completely contact-less, unattended, and disinfected delivery 24/7 of frozen, refrigerated, and ambient items. 

The boxes communicate with the delivery provider’s device, which gives them secure access to the smart box at the time of the delivery to place the items inside.

The Smart Box is equipped with the capability to disinfect exposed surfaces of delivered items as well as the interior of the Smart Box between deliveries using UVC light.

It is powered by the USA’s standard 110V outlet with a backup battery providing up to 36 hours of cooling.

The HomeValet app allows customers to control Smart Box temperature settings, which will enable safe delivery and storage of all perishables, frozen goods, and prescription medicines. The Smart Box is said to be easily configured for storage of multiple deliveries, even those requiring different temperature settings. As a result, room temperature, refrigerated, and even frozen items can all be delivered and stored together. 

Automated age and identity verification through the platform replaces the live signature process for delivery of medicines, alcohol, and any and all personalised items.

The Smart Box has a security anchor point, but HomeValet says the size and weight of the Smart Box make it difficult to remove.

The smart boxes will be tested initially with customers near Walmart’s headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, starting this spring. 

John Simms, HomeValets’s CEO and founder commented: “HomeValet’s safe delivery method, designed to fit the life of the consumer, eliminates the hassle of missed deliveries and stolen or contaminated packages.” 

It’s argued that for couriers, HomeValet will eliminate delivery reattempts or replacements, as well as the costs and burdens of on-demand delivery scheduling.

“The prospect of this technology is intriguing, both for customers and for Walmart’s last mile delivery efforts,” said Tom Ward, Walmart’s senior vice-president of customer product in the US. 

“For customers, they don’t need to plan their day around when their grocery delivery will be made. For Walmart, it presents an opportunity to deliver items 24 hours a day, seven days a week. While we don’t have plans to do 24/7 delivery today, it certainly has a nice ring to it,” he added.

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