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06/13/2022

Kroger expands fast delivery in Florida

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Kroger is opening an online delivery spoke in Miami.

The Kroger Co. is bringing its refrigerated delivery service for e-commerce orders to a key Florida market.

America's largest grocery retailer is now offering its Kroger Delivery rapid online fulfillment service to customers in South Florida with the opening of a new spoke location in Miami. The 60,000-sq.-ft. spoke facility, which collaborates with an existing high-tech customer fulfillment hub in Groveland, Fla., will serve as a last-mile cross-dock location that expands Kroger Delivery's reach without opening brick-and-mortar stores.

Kroger initially entered the Florida market via online delivery in June 2021, when it opened a location of its leading-edge automated warehouse concept known as a customer fulfillment center (CFC) in Groveland, Florida (part of the greater Orlando metro area). The 375,000-sq.-ft, facility carries thousands of popular grocery products and can fulfill thousands of orders per day.

The retailer announced its intention to bring fast online delivery to the South Florida market during the summer of 2022 when it began hiring more than 200 associates in April 2022. 

Introduced in partnership with U.K.-based online grocer Ocado in May 2018, 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 capabilities across the U.S. 

Kroger Delivery automated hub and spoke model
CFC represents one of the models engineered for the grocer’s 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're thrilled to introduce customers to Kroger Delivery in South Florida," said Andrea Colby, e-commerce corporate affairs and communications manager. "We offer customers a more convenient option to access fresh food and grocery items. Kroger Delivery is an easy, seamless way to order groceries, have them arrive in refrigerated vans, delivered to your door by professional, uniformed associates all based on your demanding schedule."

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.