The Kroger Co. is opening a new spoke facility that will extend the reach of its fast delivery program in Colorado.
America’s largest grocery retailer is opening the facility in Johnstown, Larimer County, Colo. The approximately 57,000-sq.-ft. hub will work in conjunction with Kroger's existing fast delivery fulfillment center in Aurora, Colo.
“We look forward to connecting more customers in Northern Colorado to Kroger Delivery, which brings the freshest products directly to customers' doors," said Rebekah Manis, senior director, Kroger Delivery Fulfillment Centers. "Kroger Delivery enables us to meet our customers' unique needs and deliver value, like exceptional friendly service from our best-in-class uniformed drivers, and a personalized shopping experience with zero-compromise on convenience, value and selection."
Kroger’s fast delivery model explained
The arrival of fast delivery in Northern Colorado represents an extension of a partnership between Kroger and U.K.-based online grocer Ocado Group, Introduced in 2018, the partnership leverages a fast delivery “hub and spoke” model relying on a leading-edge automated warehouse concept known as a customer fulfillment center (CFC).
The CFC model combines vertical integration, machine learning, and robotics with affordable and fast delivery service for fresh food. CFC facilities leverage proprietary technology solutions focused on artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced robotics and automation to create more seamless and efficient fulfillment, picking and delivery capabilities for enhanced digital commerce.
CFCs serve as hubs for the flexible, vertically integrated Kroger Delivery network, which also includes smaller automated facilities and spoke locations. In CFCs, more than 1,000 robots traverse giant 3D grids, orchestrated by proprietary air-traffic control systems in the unlicensed spectrum. The grid, known as The Hive, contains totes with products and ready-to-deliver customer orders.
As customers' orders near their delivery times, the robots retrieve products from The Hive, which are presented at stations for items to be sorted for delivery via an algorithmic sorting process. For example, fragile items are placed on top, bags are evenly weighted, and each order is optimized to fit into the fewest number of bags, reducing plastic use.
Once completed, orders are loaded into a temperature-controlled Kroger delivery van, which can store up to 20 orders. Machine learning algorithms dynamically optimize delivery routes, considering factors like road conditions and optimal fuel efficiency. Drivers may travel up to 90 miles with orders from facilities to make deliveries.
Kroger currently operates customer fulfillment centers in Monroe, OH, Groveland, FL, Forest Park, GA (Atlanta), Pleasant Prairie, WI, Dallas, TX, Romulus, MI (Detroit), Aurora, CO and Frederick, MD, with the expansion of additional customer fulfillment network facilities planned in the future.
Based in Cincinnati, Kroger operates 2,800 stores, including more than 100 stores in Southeast Texas and Louisiana, under a variety of banners across the U.S., including Kroger, Fred Meyer, Ralphs, Dillons, Smith's, King Soopers, Fry's, QFC, City Market, Owen's, Jay C, Pay Less, Baker's, Gerbes, Harris Teeter, Pick 'n Save, Metro Market, and Mariano's.