Kroger going ‘dark’ — with kitchens
The Kroger Co. is entering the meal-delivery business via a fast-growing new trend.
The nation’s largest supermarket retailer launched a partnership with ClusterTruck, a software platform that powers delivery-only kitchens. (Delivery-only kitchens, also known as “dark” or “ghost” kitchens, are commercial cooking spaces with no dine-in option, functioning as hubs for online orders). The new concept, called Kroger Delivery Kitchen Powered by ClusterTruck, delivers fresh meals on-demand with no service or delivery fees.
The service has launched in Indianapolis and in Columbus (Ohio), and also in Denver where it operates under Kroger’s King Soopers banner. Kroger and ClusterTruck are opening a fourth kitchen in Carmel, Indiana.
"The way our customers order and receive meals is evolving, and ClusterTruck's innovative culinary and digital design is cracking the code for the future of profitable meal delivery," said Yael Cosset, CIO, Kroger's CIO. "Kroger is leveraging ClusterTruck's advanced technology to ensure our customers don't have to sacrifice quality and value for convenience when it comes to meal delivery. Kroger Delivery Kitchen Powered by ClusterTruck will allow our customers to access restaurant-quality fresh and delicious meals like never before and without having to pay excessive service or delivery fees."
Customers in Carmel, Indianapolis and Columbus delivery zones can go to KrogerDeliveryKitchen.com to place their orders online or download the ClusterTruck app. The menu selection is varied, ranging from pizza to pad Thai.
ClusterTruck was co-founded in 2015 and launched its first kitchen in 2016. The Indianapolis-based company owns and operates vertically integrated delivery-only kitchens powered by a proprietary software system. The system uses custom algorithms to optimize kitchen and delivery operations, ensuring that nearly every order is in the hands of the customer within seven minutes of the meal's preparation. The average time between placing an order and a customer receiving their food is less than 30 minutes, Kroger said.
"ClusterTruck's ultra-fresh and quick made-from-scratch meals set them apart in the food delivery landscape," said Suzy Monford, Kroger's group VP of fresh.