While trucking expands into the final mile, Walmart eyes the final inch

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Updated Jan 10, 2022
Walmart delivery associate
Walmart InHome, as you might have surmised from its name, takes Walmart Pickup several steps further.

Forget the final mile. 

Walmart has set its sights on the final few inches. 

Walmart plans to expand its InHome delivery, growing its availability from 6 million households to 30 million by the end of the year. Walmart says it will hire more than 3,000 associate delivery drivers this year to support the initiative while building out a fleet of all-electric delivery vans.

Launched in 2019, Walmart has been operating InHome in select markets (Kansas City, Missouri and Kansas; Pittsburgh; Vero Beach and Palm Beach County, Florida; Northwest Arkansas and Atlanta). Tom Ward, Walmart U.S. senior vice president of last mile, said the company has "found [InHome] is a perfect solution for customers who want to live their lives without worrying about making it to the store or being home to accept a delivery."

I don't enjoy grocery shopping. At all. But I have found that I enjoy having someone else shop for me far less. I can't get Shipt, Instacart or similar services where I live but I've tried Walmart Pickup a few times and I'm just not that guy. Kudos to the people that are, and judging by the queue line at my local Walmart Pickup, I'm in the minority here. It's usually slammed and I see nearly as many associates inside pushing around their little segregated tub carts as I do shoppers from the general public pushing shopping carts in serious need of a front-end alignment. 

InHome, as you might have surmised from its name, takes Walmart Pickup several steps further – several steps down your sidewalk and into your kitchen (or garage). For $19.95 per month, "highly trained [Walmart] associates [will] deliver fresh groceries, everyday essentials and more directly into customers’ homes, including placing items straight into their kitchen or garage refrigerator, as well as picking up Walmart.com returns."

Two kids (one pre-teen, one full-blown teen) and a dog live in my house. While it's always "clean," it's certainly lived in. I know how hard (and quickly) my wife runs through the house picking up the evidence of our very existence when company comes over, and can only imagine the shrill cries of "the grocery delivery person is on the way! Where's the broom?! Why are these dishes still in the sink!?"

Lucky for people like my wife, you don't even have to be home and bare the embarrassment of the delivery person seeing dog toys and 37 mismatched socks scattered around your living room. Via single-use access code, the associate can unlock a customer’s door or garage through the InHome app, which pairs with smart lock technology. The app notifies the customer at every step through order to delivery and a camera on the associates’ vest records the entire delivery. Customers have access to the footage from their phones for up to a week after each delivery.

Walmart says the role of associate delivery driver is a new, up and coming full-time position in Walmart with InHome associates earning an additional $1.50 per hour over the average rate at their stores. To be considered for the service, an associate must have worked in a local Walmart store for at least a year and have undergone multiple background checks.

“This new role is yet another example of how technology is enabling us to offer new career opportunities that just didn’t exist a few years ago,” said Julie Murphy, executive vice president and chief people officer, Walmart U.S. 

For drivers, it sounds like a pretty sweet gig: tooling around probably only a few miles from your store (delivery radius varies by area); dropping off carrots and whatnot (dog food and socks in my case); and getting to check out all the trendy and cool interior decor ideas around your neighborhood. 

E-commerce has been driving transportation trends for years, including LTL carriers' growing interest in the final mile. Now, Walmart is taking that final mile, well, a little more final-er. 

Jason Cannon has written about trucking and transportation for more than a decade and serves as Chief Editor of Commercial Carrier Journal. A Class A CDL holder, Jason is a graduate of the Porsche Sport Driving School, an honorary Duckmaster at The Peabody in Memphis, Tennessee, and a purple belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu. Reach him at [email protected].