Walmart wants to send people into your house to stock the fridge — even when you’re not home

Delivery workers who drop off Walmart groceries may soon also bring them into your kitchen and unload them into your refrigerator, even if you’re not home.

The world’s largest retailer announced Friday that it is testing a delivery program in Silicon Valley that would allow customers to use smart-home technology to remotely open the door for delivery workers and watch a live stream of the delivery by linking their phones with home security cameras.

“Think about that – someone else does the shopping for you AND puts it all away,” Sloan Eddleston, vice president of Walmart eCommerce Strategy & Business Operations, wrote in a blog post Friday.

“As the homeowner, I’m in control of the experience the entire time,” he added. “I’m watching the entire process from start to finish from my home security cameras. As I watch the associate exit my front door, I even receive confirmation that my door has automatically been locked.”

Walmart executives touted the program as a way to make grocery shopping even more convenient for customers who are becoming accustomed to ordering food online. After all, they said, the rise of ride-sharing and home-sharing services means many people are already used to getting into strangers’ cars and sleeping in their bedrooms.

But security and privacy experts said Walmart’s new service raised a number of unique questions for homeowners, insurance companies and others.

“There are always unintended consequences that arise with these newfangled ideas,” said Albert Gidari, director of privacy at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society. “It might be creepy and intrusive, but there are also a lot of security risks and liability questions down the road: What happens if there’s a theft, or damage, or a dog bite? Will your homeowners’ policy cover that? How will insurance companies react to this?”

The move comes as Walmart and accelerate the race to win over customers by offering ever-more-convenient technology. Earlier this week, the Financial Times reported that Amazon is working on a home security camera system that would allow customers to remotely access video feeds to see, for instance, when packages are delivered to their homes. (Jeff Bezos, the founder and chief executive of Amazon, owns The Washington Post.)

Source link