Smart home partnership opens doors to more in-home delivery

Discussion
Source: August Home
Jan 16, 2018
Matthew Stern

Last year news broke about the two titans of today’s retail world, Amazon.com and Walmart, working independently on methods to deliver products directly into smart homes rather than leaving packages on the porch. But now, thanks to one startup, in-home delivery is no longer limited to retail’s two biggest names.

August Homes, a smart home locks startup, which partnered with Walmart on its initial in-home delivery initiative, is now working to enable the service for customers of delivery startup Deliv, according to CNBC. Deliv’s retail accounts include Macy’s, Plated, Kohl’s, Best Buy and Walgreens. As with the Walmart service, a Deliv employee who is making a smart home delivery will be given a unique code that gives them one-time access to the residence. August Homes is planning relationships with other delivery services as well.

The prospect of delivery inside private residences has garnered both praise and criticism.

On one hand, it offers a way to stop the “porch piracy” — theft of packages from a porch or front stoop — which is perceived to be on the rise with the ascendancy of e-commerce. It also prevents customers, especially those who are not home during conventional delivery hours, from missing deliveries and getting into protracted back-and-forth interactions with logistics companies to find a suitable delivery window.

On the other, it gives a stranger full access to individuals’ homes.

Amazon has sought to address this with a particular feature of its Amazon Key in-home delivery service for Prime members. Amazon Key includes a security camera as part of its package, which allows customers to watch the delivery remotely as it occurs. Amazon also stated that it had a vetting process in place for delivery personnel.

It is not clear if there is an additional vetting process for Deliv drivers tasked with in-home delivery.

August Home is also making its platform for in-home delivery available to other smart lock companies, according to CNBC. Yale residential and commercial locks are slated to begin using the platform.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you expect that smart home owners will regularly use in-home delivery from multiple retailers in the years ahead? Will customers be more likely to use in-home delivery services from retailers partnering with services such as Deliv? Do you expect UPS, FedEx and the U.S. Postal Service to move into in-home delivery, as well?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"We will see a rush of approaches as good minds define options, and the tangle of options will be straightened when solution funding moves in."
"I can’t see the federal government (US Postal) getting into this, but I actually think they could be the most trustworthy..."
"One missing element of this discussion is how confusing and hard smart home systems are to to set up and to ensure proper running over time."

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15 Comments on "Smart home partnership opens doors to more in-home delivery"


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Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

This is something that polarizes opinion and, therefore, it will remain just one delivery choice among many rather than becoming the dominant method. At this stage, I cannot see the option to deliver inside the home being a sufficiently strong differentiator to persuade consumers to use one retailer over another. Other factors like price, range, delivery time and cost, will remain more important determinants.

Ben Ball
BrainTrust

I see three tiers of in-home delivery in our future: Any retailer access <1% of homes; Amazon only access 5-10% of homes; NO access period 90%+ of homes. We have become accustomed to high levels of intrusion of our privacy — but the majority of that is online or in some other way non-physical. There's just something about knowing that another person (or thing) has been in your personal physical space that humans generally aren't ready for yet. Give it another hundred years or so.

Tony Orlando
BrainTrust

For me, I don’t want anyone in my home, except my cleaning lady, who I have known for 10 years. I’m sure others may disagree, and I understand that you can’t stop this train of technology, but I like my privacy. If others want it, so be it.

Max Goldberg
Guest

I expect consumers will be willing to adopt smart key systems, but we won’t see this happen until there is consolidation, with one system providing access to multiple delivery services (think of the hassles of VHS vs. Beta). And all it will take is a few robberies by delivery drivers to drive this business into the ground.

Lyle Bunn (Ph.D. Hon)
Guest

Solving the destination delivery dilemma allows commerce to move to the next levels in hard goods and other items that have theft appeal (alcohol) or can spoil (grocery). Complete access to a home is not an option, nor is widespread placement of deliverer-accessed cabinets. Between these 2 extremes of access and expense lies the solution. We will see a rush of approaches as good minds define options, and the tangle of options will be straightened when solution funding moves in. So much online commerce is dependent on the solution being found that I’ll predict a viable solution will emerge in several short years.

Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust
I think this is the Streamline problem, Part II. For those not old enough to remember, Streamline was the first service to offer in-home — well, actually in-garage — delivery of a range of grocery and non-food items as well as services such as dry cleaning. Part of what we learned from that experiment was that a (supply) chain is only as strong as its weakest link. So, yes, there will be increasing demand for such services and yes, people will pay for them, but only until there are one or two well-publicized problems. Vetting the drivers is only one issue. I can easily see teams of home invaders waiting for the delivery person to open the door to an affluent home and then forcing their way in. Porch pirates follow vans already, it’s just a half-step up from what they do know. As to how much access customers will allow, that’s another question. I might say, “Yes,” to Deliv, but does that mean I want to give access to my home to USPS, UPS,… Read more »
Adrian Weidmann
BrainTrust

Products ordered online and delivered to my home are simply not worth the risk of giving a complete stranger full access to my home. The value proposition for me, is simply a bridge too far.

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

Online shopping is all about convenience. There have been several steps in making online more convenient and garnering the behavior that makes it valuable. First, we could all order on our computers. Then we could use our smart phones. Then Alexa comes along. But, a pain point still exists. When and how does someone receive their order?

I live in an apartment building with a doorman. Receiving orders is safe and simple. I never have to be there. But, the vast population of single home owners face a significant pain point. Do I have my order dropped off? Do I go to a depot to pick it up? What is the safest way? What is most convenient? “Maybe I won’t order it at all.”

Smart home will solve the problem for many and take away the hesitation and question on getting the order and the result will be “Alexa, tell Amazon to send me some Tide.”

Doug Garnett
BrainTrust
Doug Garnett
President, Protonik
2 years 4 days ago

One missing element of this discussion is how confusing and hard smart home systems are to to set up and to ensure proper running over time. Just last week a tech savvy friend of mine posted his incredible frustration just getting the basics to work — and sorting through the incredible array of new cords, power needs, and chaos that made his “smart home” begin to seem pretty dumb.

So on top of the question of trust, there’s the fundamental question of execution. And, remember, it’s hard enough for a large retailer to maintain basic TVs to display in store video … now we’re asking consumers to sort through Zigbee and other arcana tech?

That said, the package ripoff problem is serious. But neighborhood drop points seem the smartest choice — and those are expanding quite quickly up here in Oregon. They’re effective and maintainable.

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
BrainTrust

The Amazon solution cost customers $250. How much does the delivery system cost? One question is whether customers are willing to allow a provider access to their home. Another question is, how many providers are customers willing to have access their home? Once the employee screening hits a glitch and hires someone who starts robbing customers, all of the systems are in jeopardy. I can see why people who have had packages stolen from their porch would be interested in these systems, but is anyone else interested?

Mohamed Amer
BrainTrust
Mohamed Amer
Independent Board Member, Investor and Startup Advisor
2 years 4 days ago

We are so early in the area of smart home that it’s difficult to predict a winner. Privacy issues are a real hurdle here, but so is the lack of a standard technology.

None will gain significant traction if the onus and cost of integration across monitoring systems, access devices, and so on falls on the consumer. Remember the 20th century tales of how confusing it is to operate a TV remote control unit, or the number of remotes required to operate the various boxes? This does not take away from the merits of the idea at all; it’s a matter of packaging the entire experience from need to enchantment.

Jeff Miller
Guest

Who would ever drive in a stranger’s car? Or even more bizarre, sleep at a stranger’s house or have a stranger sleep in your house? The answer — not everyone but enough to create unicorn level businesses and this is no different.

Of course this type of delivery will start to grow as it does solve a problem for many people. There will be issues and probably some bad press and lawsuits along the way from some potentially horrible and scary issues or even just the familiar desire of humans to blame others when they misplace their own things. However, this will start to be used more often. I can’t see the federal government (US Postal) getting into this, but I actually think they could be the most trustworthy (everyone loves the post-man) and it could help them recover financially a bit.

John Karolefski
BrainTrust

In-home delivery is essentially an invasion of privacy. Period. Will some folks use such a service? Sure. And it may succeed in some parts of the country. Not sure about New York City, metro Chicago or a few other big cities.

Patricia Vekich Waldron
Staff

I think concierge-type services will become the norm. The question is who is going to hold the keys — will it be retailer, carrier, or someone who provide more local services?

Kai Clarke
BrainTrust

Smart home deliveries are difficult at best. However, there are so many other better alternatives, including smart car deliveries, or limited access location deliveries, like smart key access under houses, or to a provider access home lockbox. The true key to success is delivering products directly to you, when you are available. Using GPS and timing windows might make this possible, at some point in the future.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"We will see a rush of approaches as good minds define options, and the tangle of options will be straightened when solution funding moves in."
"I can’t see the federal government (US Postal) getting into this, but I actually think they could be the most trustworthy..."
"One missing element of this discussion is how confusing and hard smart home systems are to to set up and to ensure proper running over time."

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