Grocery retailer The Kroger Co. is continuing to invest in its e-commerce business, announcing this week that it is expanding its partnership with automation provider Ocado Group to build new fulfillment centers that expand its food delivery offerings.
Cincinnati-based Kroger has been working with Ocado for years, in 2019 saying that would use the British firm’s technology to build a series of 20 customer fulfillment centers (CFCs) to support e-grocery shopping through digital and robotic capabilities. Kroger also works with vendors like the logistics solutions provider Knapp to speed those tasks with case delivery shuttles and robotic palletizers.
Demand for automated grocery fulfillment systems has soared during the pandemic, leading to investments by major retailers like Walmart and Ahold Delhaize in technology from vendors such as Fabric, Berkshire Grey, Alert Innovation, Dematic, Swisslog, and AutoStore.
Kroger says its latest move will combine vertical integration, machine learning, and robotics to provide an affordable, friendly, and fast fresh food delivery service. Those capabilities will also open up new markets for the company, allowing it to enter the Northeast U.S. for the first time and to bulk up operations in Florida and California.
"The acceleration of Kroger Delivery continues with these new facilities and our continued focus on creating career opportunities and serving customers through interconnected, automated and innovative fulfillment models that cater to different and accretive grocery shopper missions in both new and existing geographies," Gabriel Arreaga, Kroger's senior vice president and chief supply chain officer, said in a release. "We have a pipeline of sites in development across the U.S., with several scheduled to open next year, and we're excited to continue delivering the Kroger experience to more doorsteps."