HomeValet launches its $499 Smart Box to keep your grocery deliveries cold and packages secure – TechCrunch

HomeValet, a startup in the greater metropolitan area that developed a temperature-controlled smart box for grocery delivery, is now launching its smart home product to the public and expanding its partnership with Walmart. The company previously experimented with a Smart Box with Walmart in 2021 as a way for grocery delivery customers to keep items fresh and frozen while ensuring their deliveries remain safe until they can redeem them.

Now, the Smart Box will be offered to Walmart’s InHome grocery delivery subscribers in select markets starting this month, the company says. It will also be offered to regular consumers who can pre-order the box with a down payment of $50. The full product costs $499 for InHome subscribers – so it’s kind of an investment (funding is available through Affirm).

However, the box may make sense for people who want the convenience of placing groceries orders online but are unable to be at home when these items are delivered.

Image credits: Home Valet

This is one of the major barriers to the adoption of grocery delivery among consumers. Since fresh and frozen items have to be placed somewhat apart after delivery, many people choose to order groceries via curbside delivery or just shop in stores as usual. The problem also complicates the logistics of grocery delivery, as shoppers want their groceries delivered at certain times of the day, when they are at home – such as after work or on the weekends. This results in ebb and flow of delivery orders over days and weeks, rather than 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 the InHome delivery service. The grocery subscription service, which the retailer said last week will be available to 30 million households by the end of the year, allows Walmart employees to enter the home with a smart lock system and put groceries away in the refrigerator and freezer on the customer’s behalf. These deliveries are recorded via cameras worn in the jacket for security purposes.

But not all customers will be comfortable with unknown people entering their homes. (Or they can’t allow it for another reason—like having a large dog that doesn’t like visitors, perhaps!)

This is where the HomeValet Smart Box can come in. Instead of Walmart delivery employees entering their homes, the delivery driver will be able to reach into the smart box and place the groceries inside.

Image credits: Home Valet

The HomeValet system itself is an internet-connected box with a non-refrigerated side for pantry and other non-grocery items, as well as a temperature-controlled cooler side with sections for both fresh and frozen items. (Sections are configurable by the end user as well.)

The Smart Box also comes with a companion mobile app that alerts you to deliveries and video recording of the courier placing your order inside the box via the included Sony IMX322 camera, which records in 1080p.

Image credits: Home Valet

From the app, customers can lock and unlock the box, as needed, and adjust the temperature remotely. The box can also be automatically opened for deliveries before they arrive if it’s combined with a supported retailer’s system, such as Walmart InHome. (The app requires a paid subscription.)

The smart box is powered by a standard 110V outlet and can be grounded if desired. The box measures 120 pounds and sports 50.86 x 25.37 x 26.56 inches in dimensions. (An earlier version had a UV light for sterilization but the current system specification doesn’t mention this feature.)

HomeValet piloted the Smart Box system with Walmart customers in May 2021 in northwest Arkansas and conducted additional testing in parts of Indiana, Minnesota, and in the metropolitan metro area. The company is now working on making the system available to InHome shoppers first.

Walmart InHome customers served by stores in Florida — a smart place to start, given the climate — will get their first shipments from the box in February 2022. InHome customers can purchase the box at the launch price of $499 plus a $10 per month subscription to the service, with six free months included.

The fund will then be shipped to other pre-order customers in August 2022 in limited quantities, followed by expanded shipments in November 2022. These customers will pay a different MSRP, to be released at a later time.

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