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Following the acquisition of the meal kit company, Home Chef, earlier this year, a new range of meal kits is being launched into selected Kroger stores.

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Florida-based Sedano's Supermarkets is partnering with Takeoff Technologies to launch an automated, hyperlocal fulfilment centre for grocery ecommerce.

Aiming to reduce cost and time to fulfil ecommerce orders

Sedano's Supermarkets is one of the largest Hispanic grocers in the US, operating 23 stores in the Miami area. Takeoff’s automated solution uses robots enabled with artificial intelligence to build customer orders. In partnership with store associates, baskets of up to 60 items can be assembled in just a few minutes, significantly reducing the time and cost compared to manual picking. The first fulfilment centre, which is scheduled to open in the next few months, will serve 14 of Sedano's locations.

Source: Takeoff

Compact solution enables retailers to repurpose existing space

Takeoff is aiming to develop hyperlocal fulfilment centres that have one-eighth the footprint of a typical supermarket due to innovative robotics and compact vertical spaces. The compact nature of the solution means that retailers can repurpose existing stores by turning them into micro distribution centres. The company is working with five regional and national retail chains in the US, with several sites expected to launch next year.

To support the company’s development, James McCann, former CEO of Ahold USA, is joining the business as a member of Takeoff’s Advisory Board and as an investor. The company has also closed a new round of financing led by Forrestal Capital, taking the total capital raised to $46M.

Robotic solutions at Walmart and Kroger

Recently, Walmart announced that it is partnering with Alert Innovation to pilot an in-store robotic picking system for grocery ecommerce orders. The Alphabot technology is to be piloted at a supercenter in Salem, New Hampshire. The technology, which has been developed specifically for Walmart, will be housed in a 20,000 sq ft extension connected to the store.

Earlier this year, Kroger announced a strategic partnership with Ocado which will see them jointly develop up to 20 automated fulfilment centres for grocery ecommerce in the US. These will optimise Ocado’s technology-led solutions.

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Kroger and Walgreens are partnering on a new store pilot where customers will be able to shop for products and services from both retailers.

Walgreens stores to operate as pickup points for Kroger ecommerce orders

The companies have selected 13 Walgreens locations in Northern Kentucky where customers will be able to collect their Kroger online grocery orders and purchase Kroger’s private brand ranges. The pilot will run for several months, with the companies collating customer feedback before making any decision on expanding the program.

Source: IGD Research

Aligned with Kroger’s strategic priorities

This pilot aligns with Kroger’s strategic priority to redefine the customer experience and provide its shoppers with more convenient options. The business continues to expand its grocery ecommerce operation, through both store pickup and delivery in partnership with Instacart. Earlier this year, it formed a strategic partnership with Ocado which will see it develop up to 20 customer fulfillment centres to support the further expansion of its grocery ecommerce initiative.

Delivering convenience in new ways

For Kroger, Walgreens’ network of almost 10,000 stores makes it an attractive partner to collaborate with. The drugstore retailer has secured highly convenient sites in many major US cities, potentially providing Kroger with access to new shoppers in urban locations. These are areas where Kroger is currently under-penetrated. The stores could be key in helping it grow its ecommerce business as the store locations will be close to where consumers work and live. This move comes following a shift out of convenience retailing, having sold its convenience network to UK-based, Euro Garages earlier this year.

Enhancing the Walgreens grocery offer

Partnering with Kroger provides Walgreens with an opportunity to further differentiate the customer experience. Although it has a well-established private brands program, especially in beauty categories where it has optimised the Boots portfolio, it does not have the same depth of offer in grocery categories. Kroger’s Simple Truth, natural and organic range, and premium-tier, Private Selection, brand will be key additions to the offer. Walgreens will also be assessing the impact on store traffic of having Kroger customers coming in to pick up their orders. 

Enables Walgreens to focus efforts on health, wellness and pharmacy

If the pilot is successful, it could see Kroger take a more strategic role in supporting the development of the fresh and grocery offer at Walgreens. This would enable the drugstore operator to focus on its areas of expertise in health, wellness and pharmacy. While the retailer has developed a sophisticated food offer, including its ‘up market’ fresh food concept, there has been less development in this area over recent years compared to the healthcare side of the business. Future developments could also see Walgreens take a role in the provision of healthcare and pharmacy services at Kroger. Three years ago, Target divested its pharmacy business to CVS Health, noting the growing sophistication and complexity of pharmacy-related services. 

Global shift towards strategic alliances

This new partnership further highlights a key trend we have seen over the last year of retailers globally reimaging how they operate. Where historically it was a case of owning and operating stores in as many countries possible, there is now a strategy of building alliances. The strategic partnerships are enabling retailers to expand into new areas and reach different customers, faster and with lower capital requirements.

Retail Analysis subscribers: access our latest report on Global Retail Alliances here

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Kroger’s Food 4 Less banner has launched a new digital collectables promotion using blockchain technology.

Blockchain protected loyalty and rewards platform

Food 4 Less has partnered with Greenfence Consumer to deliver a gamified experience and exclusive collectible content, leveraging Blockchain technology. Greenfence Consumer focuses on building blockchain protected mobile loyalty and rewards platforms, enabling consumers with no experience of blockchain technology to participate in its programmes. The gameplay and prizing are authenticated, fraud-proof, and completely secure from theft or duplication.

Source: Greenfence

Partnering with Los Angeles FC

Through the mobile-based promotion, consumers can win tickets and merchandise to the recently launched Los Angeles FC team and collect ‘GFT Authentic Digital Collectible’ cards. The prizes can be shared with friends or traded securely among participants. This adds a social component to the initiatives. Partnering with the new Major League Soccer (MLS) team is a good fit for Food 4 Less, given its strong presence in southern California.

Increasing industry adoption

Blockchain based applications are becoming more prevalent in the food and grocery industry. The technology establishes a ‘single version of the truth’ and has the potential to increase trust and transparency in the supply chain. Many of the initiatives launched to date have been focused on tracking products across the supply chain and providing consumers with more information around traceability. Walmart, Carrefour and Alibaba have been working on programmes in these areas, while Rakuten and Burger King have been looking at using blockchain technology for customer rewards.

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Presentations

10/10/2018
An essential summary of trading priorities, latest developments, and other key commercial insights for Kroger.
02/08/2018
We visited this Kroger Marketplace store to understand how it is executing its new strategy in its core format, with a special focus on health, local sourcing and multi-channel initiatives.
23/07/2018
We look at the growing importance of ecommerce and prepared foods in the North American grocery sector along with the increased focus which is being placed on data science and building analytical capabilities.
View all presentations

Key presentations

We review Kroger’s retail outlook over the next five years and explore its priorities.

This in-depth guide to the USA explores the key trends in grocery retail and the growth strategies of the leading retailers in the country.

An essential summary of trading priorities, latest developments, and other key commercial insights for Kroger.

We've developed a single, universal methodology for calculating food and consumer goods retail data, supported by our programme of primary and secondary research. This makes Retail Analysis the most reliable and robust source available for data of this type. 

See all the latest retail news, store visits, downloadable presentations and photos together in one place.