FreshDirect joins micro-fulfillment, on-demand delivery trends

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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An online grocer is enabling two-hour delivery with micro-fulfillment technology.

New York-based FreshDirect is enhancing its service in the Washington, D.C., metro area by providing on-demand delivery of a wide selection of its assortment within two hours. To support this offering, which will launch in late 2020, the retailer will leverage Fabric robotic micro-fulfillment technology.

Micro-fulfillment technology automates picking and packing, using robotic systems to efficiently locate and retrieve products stored in a space too compact for human workers. Grocers including Kroger, Walmart, Albertsons, and Loblaw are all currently using micro-fulfillment systems at some store and facilities. Amazon is also said to be planning to use micro-fulfillment technology in its new brick-and-mortar grocery format.

Employing a hub-and-spoke operational structure, with its primary facility remaining at its Bronx, NY headquarters, FreshDirect believes this robotic partnership will serve as a blueprint for future service upgrades in other parts of the country. To that end, FreshDirect expects its initial micro-fulfillment rollout will drive critical efficiencies, enabling faster service and a substantial increase in order volume capacity.

FreshDirect will roll out the new upgrades across its D.C. metro delivery footprint which spans the Washington D.C., Silver Spring/Potomac, and Vienna/Dulles areas. The retailer will continue to offer next-day delivery in this market, as well.

“Washington, D.C., has always been an important market for FreshDirect, and we are excited to partner with Fabric to meet the current surge in demand while improving the customer experience,” said David McInerney, FreshDirect CEO. “Fabric’s technology will allow us to turn our existing regional facilities into high-velocity automated distribution centers, speeding our expansion into new markets with 2-hour on-demand delivery.”

FreshDirect delivers fresh food groceries directly to customers throughout seven states, including the New York City and Philadelphia metropolitan areas, and the District of Columbia. Launched in 2002, FreshDirect is a privately-held company headquartered in Bronx, N.Y.