HomeValet, a D.C. Metro area-based startup that has developed a temperature-controlled smart box for grocery deliveries, is now releasing its smart home product to the public and expanding its partnership with Walmart. The company had previously piloted its Smart Box with Walmart in 2021 as a way for grocery delivery customers to keep their fresh and frozen items cold while also ensuring their deliveries remained secure until they could retrieve them.
Now, the Smart Box will now be offered to Walmart’s InHome grocery delivery subscribers in select markets starting this month, the company says. It will also be offered to general consumers who can pre-order the box with a down payment of $50. The full product costs $499 for InHome subscribers — so it’s a bit of an investment. (Financing is available through Affirm.)
However, the box could make sense for people who want the convenience of placing grocery orders online but aren’t able to be at home when those items are delivered.
This is one of the major roadblocks to grocery delivery adoption among consumers. Because fresh and frozen items need to be put away fairly soon after delivery, many people opt to order groceries via curbside pickup or just shop the stores as usual. The issue also complicates the logistics of grocery delivery, as shoppers want their groceries delivered at certain times of day when they can be home — like after work or on weekends. This leads to ebbs and flows of delivery requests throughout the days and weeks, instead of allowing the retailer itself to determine the best time to route and deliver certain orders.
Walmart’s solution to this problem, so far, has been its InHome delivery service. This grocery subscription service, which the retailer said last week would be available to 30 million households by year-end, allows Walmart employees to enter the home through a smart lock system and put groceries away in the fridge and freezer on the customer’s behalf. These deliveries are recorded via vest-worn cameras for security purposes.
But not all customers will be comfortable with having unknown people enter their homes. (Or they can’t allow this for some other reason — like having a big dog who doesn’t like visitors, perhaps!)
This is where the HomeValet Smart Box system could come in. Instead of having the Walmart delivery staff enter their home, the delivery driver would be able to access the smart box and place the groceries inside.
The HomeValet system itself is an internet-connected box with an uncooled side for pantry and other non-grocery items as well as a temperature-controlled cooler side with sections for both fresh and frozen items. (The sections are configurable by the end user, too.)
The Smart Box also ships with a companion mobile app that alerts you to deliveries and records video of the courier placing your order inside the box via its included Sony IMX322 camera, which records in 1080p.
From the app, customers are able to lock and unlock the box, as needed, and adjust the temperature remotely. The box can also automatically unlock for deliveries before they arrive if integrated with a supported retailer’s system, like Walmart’s InHome. (The app requires a paid subscription).
The Smart Box is powered by a standard 110-volt outlet and can be anchored to the ground if desired. The box is a sizable 120 pounds and sports dimensions of 50.86″ x 25.37″ x 26.56″. (An earlier version had a UV light for sanitization but the current system’s specs doesn’t mention this feature.)
HomeValet piloted its Smart Box system with Walmart customers in May 2021 in Northwest Arkansas and ran additional tests in parts of Indiana, Minnesota, and in the D.C. Metro area. The company is now making the system available to InHome shoppers first.
Walmart InHome customers serviced by stores in Florida — a smart place to start, given the climate — will be getting the first shipments of the box in Feb. 2022. InHome customers can purchase the box at the launch price of $499 plus a $10/mo subscription service, with 6 months free included.
The box will then ship to other pre-order customers in August 2022 in limited quantities, followed by expanded shipments in Nov. 2022. These customers will pay a different MSRP to be released at a later date.