The Kroger Co. is opening of a new spoke facility in South Florida.
America’s largest grocer is operating the 60,000-sq.-ft facility in conjunction with its existing Groveland, Fla. fulfillment center. All orders are picked fresh within the Groveland hub. Associates assemble orders and place them in climate-controlled vehicles to travel to Miami, serving communities between Port St. Lucie in the north to Homestead in the south, on both the east and west sides of Interstate 95.
Once the orders arrive, they are checked and placed on refrigerated delivery trucks that deliver directly to customers' doors. The new spoke facility employs 90 workers.
"We are thrilled to connect more Floridians to the Kroger Delivery shopping experience, which brings thousands of digital coupons, valuable fuel points* and the freshest products directly to customers' doors," said Bill Bennett, Kroger VP and head of e-commerce. "Whether they are using the Kroger app or browsing our weekly ad at Kroger.com, customers can enjoy fresh, high-quality, affordable groceries delivered by best-in-class uniformed drivers."
Kroger’s fast delivery model explained
The arrival of fast delivery in South Florida 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.
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.