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General Motors Enhances Its E-Cart for Grocery Pickup

Self-dispensing feature allows shoppers to automatically unlock and retrieve order items
Lynn Petrak, Progressive Grocer
GM BrightDrop cart - self-dispensing
GM's BrightDrop subsidiary has made improvements to its e-cart for grocery order curbside pickup.

General Motors is enhancing its retail solutions with a new self-dispense option for grocery pickup. The feature from GM’s electric commercial van and logistics subsidiary BrightDrop enables shoppers to retrieve their online orders directly from secure compartments at a store’s curbside pickup area, without the need for associate assistance.

The addition to BrightDrop’s temperature managed Trace Grocery e-cart is designed to streamline the curbside pickup experience for customers and store team members alike. The process is fairly straightforward: Associates pick and pack order items into the e-cart compartments, sorting products by temperature and then moving the cart into a designated curbside location. On arrival at the store, shoppers use their smartphone to unlock specific compartments and dispense their groceries.

[Read more: “Albertsons Cos. Helps Shoppers Get Their Groceries in a Flash”]

According to GM, the self-dispensing system can cut the time to serve online orders as much as 34% by removing staging and de-staging steps. It also eliminates the need for a retailer to add freestanding lockers to their pickup areas. Ultimately, the system frees employees to continue to fulfill orders and also ensures that customers aren’t waiting on associates.

There are some additional labor benefits to the system. The carts are equipped with battery population that reduces physical strain on store associates.

Seizing opportunities in the e-commerce channel through its BrightDrop group, GM introduced the Trace Grocery e-cart in 2022 following extensive market research and prototype builds. The cart was pilot tested by The Kroger Co.

The new self-dispensing feature will be available on the e-carts beginning in early 2024, the company reported. GM’s BrightDrop also underscored its commitment to innovation in the grocery segment, citing the projection that the online grocery market is expected to hit $240 billion by 2025 and double that in the next decade.

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