To increase the convenience of grocery home delivery, Kroger will be piloting autonomous delivery vehicles.
Partnership with Nuro
Kroger will partner with Nuro, a company that makes fully unmanned vehicles, to trial the delivery initiative. Customers will be able to place orders for same day delivery, through ClickList or through a Nuro app. The first trial is expected to happen later this year, but the pilot market has not yet been announced. The fully electric vehicles have locking compartments and shoppers will receive a code to unlock it when they place their order.
The small vehicles weigh around 1,500 pounds and have cameras and sensors to allow them to drive autonomously. It aims to increase the flexibility and responsiveness of the online grocery delivery process, making it more accessible and affordable for customers. Last mile delivery is often the highest area of cost in online services; improving cost efficiencies in this area could provide significant operational savings for Kroger, helping it to increase its competitiveness in the online channel.
Operating over 2,800 stores across 35 states creates a challenge for Kroger when designing home delivery solutions. This innovative partnership looks to help address this, creating a solution which would be relatively easy to roll out to multiple areas. Its Restock Kroger plan is focused on redefining the grocery experience for customers and increasing the ease of omni-channel shopping is one of the key ways in which it is striving to achieve this.
It also follows on from Kroger's recent announcement that it would partner with UK online grocery specialist, Ocado, where it will be able to access Ocado's technology, including robotics. Building its capabilities in a number of areas should help Kroger to address its aim of providing a seamless shopping experience for customers.
New digital headquarters
Kroger has also announced that it will open a new digital HQ in Cincinnati, as it continues to expand its online operations. It wants to grow the office to 1,000 employees over the next three years, with some jobs initially moving from its current offices to the new HQ from July. This latest move is another indication of the commitment that Kroger has to increasing its digital focus and capabilities. With Q1 digital sales up 66% and coverage of its online services now reaching 75% of its shoppers, Kroger is continuing to successfully build on the foundations it has steadily been putting in place.
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