The mini fulfillment center within Stop & Shop's Windsor, Conn., store will go live in January 2019
Reliable and Scalable
Noting that the traditional grocery ecommerce models of having associates roam store aisles to gather products manually or a large centralized facility located far from customers were both expensive options, Aguerrevere explained that in Takeoff's reliable, scalable solution, which can be set up within a store in just a few months and includes hardware furnished by Austrian material-handling company Knapp, “[w]e take a sliver of the supermarket … in which we place an automated facility and a manual picking area.”
Employing around 20 people, the center features 15,000 SKUs representing about 90 percent of the sales done online, he added, and 4,000 orders per week can be assembled out of it.
“We’re located right in the store, so we leverage the supply chain [and] we use the same trucks that deliver the goods to the supermarket,” observed Aguerrevere, going on to reveal the solution’s central innovation: “Instead of having the picker roaming the aisles, the items come to the picker.”
Roaming the aisles, an associate picks an item every 60 seconds. With an employee stationed in front of what Aguerrevere described as “a giant vending machine,” however, “an item comes to the picker every six seconds,” with the result that “the labor productivity is six times higher,” for a “very efficient” 140 items per labor hour. Using this system, the center is able to churn out “one order every minute or so,” he noted.
What’s more, thanks to the solution’s “hyper-local fulfillment” model, pickups and deliveries can be accomplished in a mere two to four hours.
Aguerrevere was highly enthusiastic about what he called the “merging of art and science,” with “humans and robots working together to assemble orders” in a cost-effective manner. Although the mini fulfillment center is a test, with future growth plans dependent on how it performs at the Windsor store, it’s clear that Ahold Delhaize holds high hopes for the future of this cutting-edge ecommerce solution.
The company's American business, Ahold Delhaize USA, is No. 4 on Progressive Grocer's 2018 Super 50 list of the top grocers in the United States.