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11/08/2022

Kroger brings fast delivery to two Southwest metro areas

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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fulfillment facility
Kroger is opening spoke delivery facilities in San Antonio and Oklahoma City.

Kroger Co. is opening fulfillment facilities to enable fast online delivery to customers in select areas of Texas and Oklahoma.

America's largest grocery retailer is adding delivery spoke facilities in San Antonio, Texas and Oklahoma City, Okla. Working in conjunction with nearby fulfillment centers, Kroger’s online delivery service will now reach customers in those two metropolitan areas.

Both facilities will work in conjunction with the Kroger Dallas fulfillment center, increasing the retailer’s delivery network's reach.The 67,000-sq.-ft. San Antonio spoke facility will employ more than 160 workers, while the 50,000-sq.-ft. Oklahoma City facility will have about 190 employees.

Kroger fast delivery model
The expansion in the Southwest 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.

“We are committed to delivering a fresh, convenient customer shopping experience with zero compromise on quality, selection and affordability,” said Bill Bennett, VP and head of e-commerce, Kroger. “From the personalized shopping experience, easy digital coupons, valuable fuel points and fresh, high-quality products, to the refrigerated trucks, trained and uniformed drivers, we look forward to Oklahoma City and San Antonio customers enjoying all the benefits Kroger online shopping has to offer.”

Kroger currently operates customer fulfillment centers in Detroit; Monroe, Ohio; Groveland, Fla.; Forest Park, Ga. (Atlanta); Pleasant Prairie, Wis., and Dallas. The company plans additional customer fulfillment centers in California; Frederick, Md.; Phoenix; Cleveland; Charlotte, N.C.; Aurora, Colo. (Denver); as well as South Florida and the Northeast.

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.