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Walmart testing delivery using smart-home technology

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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 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 livestream of the delivery by linking their phones with home security cameras.

“As the homeowner, I’m in control of the experience the entire time,” Sloan Eddleston, vice president of Walmart eCommerce Strategy & Business Operations, wrote in a blog post on Friday. “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.”

The move comes as Walmart and Amazon.com 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. (Jeffrey P. Bezos, the founder and chief executive of Amazon, owns the Washington Post.)

The $600 billion grocery market has been a particular point of competition following Amazon’s $13.7 billion takeover of Whole Foods Market last month. Walmart, currently the country’s largest grocer, announced this week that it would become the first retailer to allow customers to use food stamps to pay for online grocery orders. The company also recently announced that it was partnering with Google to allow shoppers to buy its products by speaking to Google Home devices.

Walmart’s latest partnership, with smart-technology company August Home and same-day delivery service Deliv, is still in the early stages, according to Walmart spokesman Ravi Jariwala. He added that it was not clear how long the current test would last, or how the program might evolve.

“We want to start small so we can test and learn,” Jariwala said. “This may not necessarily become the norm. And it may not be for everyone, certainly not right away, but we see a lot of potential here.”

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