OLATHE, Kan. — Coming home to find a fridge stocked with groceries, despite never setting foot in a store, is now a possibility.
Walmart began offering a new service that allows for just that, and it is currently rolled out in three markets, including Kansas City, Missouri.
"Sometimes life happens, and you just get busy, and InHome can be such a resource," Walmart spokeswoman Molly Blakeman said.
InHome launched in October and is available in 10 stores around the metro.
The service is available for a monthly fee of $19.95, plus the $50 cost of a smart lock installed by Walmart on a front door or garage door.
The company let the 41 Action News Investigators shadow a delivery to see how the service works.
Once an order has been placed and a delivery day set, a Walmart employee gathers the requested items and takes them to a delivery associate.
"These associates have been background checked," Blakeman said. "They have a stellar record with Walmart and have been handpicked to take part in InHome."
Monica Fetters, the InHome associate 41 Action News shadowed, has been with the company for 25 years.
"It's really the next level of customer service," Fetters said, while packing a delivery.
She placed cold items in coolers and freezer bags, while dry goods went into separate bins for the drive.
Once Fetters arrived at the house slated to receive the order, she loaded the groceries on to a cart and wheeled them to the garage door.
Through the InHome app, she notified the customer of her arrival and started a live stream.
It's one of several items that must be in place before an associate receives a one-time entry code for a garage or door.
"It has to be your order, it has to be during the delivery period and we have to be live streaming so that customer can watch if they so chose," Blakeman said.
According to the company, that video is deleted after 7 days.
Once inside the garage, Fetters loaded cold groceries into the fridge and dry goods into reusable bags. She left a thank-you note for the customer, then closed the garage and returned to her car for the next delivery.
Fetters said it took time to get used to walking into a stranger's home.
"It was a little nerve-racking, just like (for) the customer," she said.
But in-home delivery isn't a new concept.
Amazon launched its Key by Amazon service in 2017, using similar security measures. However, Amazon's service requires customers to purchase smart locks and cameras. If the customer does not already own a Ring camera, the total for the two pieces of equipment ranges from $150 to $360.
Amazon also offers in-garage, in-car and in-gate delivery.
Although Amazon and Walmart are unique in offering delivery in-home, the online grocery shopping industry has other players. For example, Instacart offers delivery from stores in the metro like Price Chopper and Hy-Vee.
"As we get more comfortable with technology, these things are going to be a way to save time and make your lives easier," Blakeman said of Walmart's service.
Walmart employees said they already are getting good feedback from customers who are elderly or have disabilities and struggle to drive to the store.
"No worries, we'll come to you," Fetters said.
Those who are interested in the service can check if their home is eligible for InHome delivery.