Jet.com is installing “smart locks” from Latch in 1,000 apartment buildings in New York City, Latch told Retail Dive in an email Thursday. Latch’s system allows someone to unlock a door with an iOS or Android smartphone, smartcard or special doorcode (or a key). The apps let building managers know when someone arrives at a building, allow them in as needed or provide time-coded limited access, according to Latch.
In addition to package access, residents at Latch-enabled buildings will receive exclusive promotions and services from Jet.com, a Jet spokesperson told Retail Dive.
The effort aims to make it easier for apartment dwellers without a doorman or whose buildings aren't otherwise set up to accept package deliveries when people aren’t home. “The partnership will enable residents to seamlessly arrange for secure delivery directly in their building lobby avoiding many of the urban last mile pain points such as missed or stolen packages, and the burden of having to either be home at scheduled times or reroute packages to work locations,” the Jet spokesperson said.
This effort continues Jet’s push to attract new customers — a process under way when it was acquired by Walmart last year when it was still a startup. Walmart's online efforts over the years were hamstrung by a customer base that is composed largely of lower-income, suburban shoppers who are less likely to shop on the web; many don’t have credit cards. Co-opting Jet has given Walmart an opening with the younger, deeper-pocketed, more urban shoppers that Jet has been spending wildly to court.
The move also reflects the tech-facing attitude from Jet founder Marc Lore, now Walmart's U.S. e-commerce chief, and his team. “At Jet.com we’re always innovating on the best way to enhance our consumers’ shopping experience,” Jet VP of Marketing Sumaiya Balbale told Retail Dive in an email. “This exclusive partnership with Latch allows us to raise the bar on seamless delivery to urban shoppers, making it more convenient for consumers to shop for their everyday and unique needs on Jet.com."
While several of Walmart's subsequent post-Jet e-commerce acquisitions enjoy a customer following that does skew younger and wealthier, it's not clear that Jet itself is well positioned to appeal to those more urban consumers. The digital retailer's main pitch is its algorithm-driven opportunity to drive down a shopper's final cost, from choosing cheaper fulfillment options to forgoing returns for a discount, a price focus that is top of mind for Walmart's existing customer base.
The power over a Latch system is designed to be flexible, and, in the New York City scenario described by the companies, the control would likely remain with building managers and not with the shoppers themselves. That could interfere with efforts in last-mile delivery that involve crowd-sourced drivers from Uber or others rather than traditional shippers from UPS or FedEx, who employ credentialed delivery professionals.