The new customer fulfillment centers (CFCs) will also give Kroger a way to serve shoppers in markets where it doesn’t operate retail stores.That's the case with the Groveland, Fla., facility, where it appears that rapid progress is being made on a 336,000-square-foot facility that gives Kroger the ability initially to serve the central part of the state. Other than its new CFC, Kroger has no physical presence in Florida.
Once the shell of the building is complete, the hard work begins. Costing upward of $50 million apiece, the CFCs will be filled with 1,000 robotic order pickers, elaborate racking and storage systems, and various climate zones. Sophisticated technology will tie it all together, so the behind-the-scenes magic of the fulfillment process won't be evident to a shopper placing an order with a few smartphone taps, or perhaps by talking to Google.
Getting the CFCs right, filled with merchandise and functioning flawlessly, will be no small feat. However, as Kroger executives noted during the investor conference, Ocado has been at it for 20 years. That’s why Kroger is confident that when the CFCs become operational, the reliability of the experience provided to the shopper will be a huge differentiator.
Cincinnati-based Kroger employs nearly half a million associates who serve 9 million-plus customers daily through a seamless digital shopping experience and 2,769 retail food stores under a variety of banner names. The company is No. 2 on Progressive Grocer’s 2019 Super 50 list of the top grocers in the United States.