Kroger and Ocado plan to build their first joint customer fulfillment center in Monroe, Ohio, part of the greater Cincinnati area
The Kroger Co. and Ocado, one of the most prominent online grocers in the world, have chosen a suburb of Cincinnati, the city where Kroger is based, as the location for their first customer fulfillment center, part of their partnership launched earlier this year to better automate Kroger's grocery ecommerce program.
Set to be constructed in Monroe, Ohio, the facility will be an automated warehouse with digital and robotic capabilities. It will cost $55 million, measure 335,000 square feet, and bring 410 new jobs to southwest Ohio.
Kroger is planning a total of 20 customer fulfillment centers – aka "sheds" – all of which will use the same model as the Monroe location. These facilities will introduce innovative robotics, allowing for next-generation automated storage and retrieval.
Among the unique features of the sheds are:
Space efficiency: The grid makes the best possible use of any available space
Performance: the robots move at speeds of several meters per second and can carry crates weighing tens of kilograms
Intelligence: The system is controlled via a 4G-based wireless protocol, using what is said to be the most advanced real-time optimization system ever created for logistics
High-speed collaboration: The robots work together as a swarm to pick an order of more than 50 items in just a few minutes
Scalability: The grid can easily be built to different sizes, and can accommodate more robots and crates according to changing capacity requirements
Resilience: All robots in a swarm are homogenous, so they can't take over from each other at any given time
The Monroe center will cost $55 million, measure 335,000 square feet, and bring 410 new jobs to southwest Ohio
"Kroger is joining with the best partners in the world to co-innovate and leverage technology to redefine the customer experience," said Rodney McMullen, Kroger’s chairman and CEO. "We are incredibly excited to partner with Ocado to transform the industry and deliver on our Restock Kroger vision to serve America through food inspiration and uplift. This Kroger shed, powered by Ocado, will accelerate our ability to provide customers with anything, anytime and anywhere."
Added Alex Tosolini, Kroger’s SVP of new business development: “Working together, we will develop the strongest possible supply network to support a seamless customer experience that can serve every person in America. It’s all about building a seamless supply chain to provide our customers with an amazing shopping experience.”
While it might be the largest pure-play food retailer in America, Kroger is not the only, or the largest, retailer with groceries working to automate fulfillment. Last month, Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons Cos. said it is partnering with Waltham, Mass.-based grocery technology company Takeoff Technologies to help simplify the online grocery shopping experience through a "hyper-local" automated fulfillment center, which also helps lower order-assembly and last-mile costs.
And in August, Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart said it was partnering with North Billerica, Mass.-based Alert Innovation to introduce automated mobile carts that help store pickers speed up the process of filing online grocery orders. A 20,000-square-foot extension was built onto a Salem, N.H., Superstore to house the technology and serves as a dedicated grocery pickup point with drive-thru lanes for customers.
Randy Hofbauer is the former digital and technology editor of Progressive Grocer. He has more than a decade of experience as a content strategist, researcher and marketer, almost all of it covering CPG retailing. His insights and work have been cited in a nu Read More