Warehouse robotics and automation provider Berkshire Grey Inc. will provide grocery-picking robots through a $23 million contract with an unnamed global retailer for online, same day, order fulfillment.
The deal comes just weeks before Bedford, Massachusetts-based Berkshire Grey plans to become a publicly listed company through its February deal to be acquired by a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) called Revolution Acceleration Acquisition Corp. The company expects that its stock will begin to trade early in the third quarter of 2021.
Online grocery has seen huge growth over the past year, as nearly 52% of the U.S. population are expected to be digital grocery buyers by 2022, representing a large portion of the $1.7 trillion annual spend in that sector, according to statistics provided by the company.
To meet that rising demand, Berkshire Grey will provide its Intelligent Enterprise Robotics (IER) solution that robotically picks grocery items from inventory and packs the items into customer bags to fill orders that are placed online and via mobile apps. The firm says those robotic solutions can operate either in back-of-store—putting the operation close to current shoppers for rapid pickup and delivery—or in larger, dedicated fulfillment and distribution centers. Either way, the systems support high-growth commerce models like order-online-pickup-at-store and order-online-be-delivered-to-by-store.
“Ordering groceries online became a habit for many during Covid-19,” Pete Allen, Berkshire Grey’s general manager of grocery and convenience, said in a release. “Driven by this and the convenience of online ordering, our customers need rapid fulfillment of online orders done in an efficient way to meet a range of consumer demands – at the same time our customers need to ensure that the right goods are always on the right shelves at the right times in the store.”
The rising popularity of online grocery orders has also lead other retails to boost their investment in automated fulfillment solutions, such as Kroger Co.’s deal last week with logistics solutions provider Knapp and the launch of an e-fulfillment system developed in-house by online grocery company Home Delivery Service (HDS).