General Motors is getting into the grocery cart business – or at least the e-cart business. The company’s wholly-owned subsidiary, BrightDrop, has unveiled a temperature-controlled e-cart called Trace Grocery that optimizes digital pickup and fulfillment.
BrightDrop, which offers a portfolio of electric vehicles, smart containers and software for last-mile deliveries, has spent the past year or so refining the e-cart prototypes and technologies. Following a successful pilot program at two locations in Kentucky, The Kroger Co. will soon begin using Trace Grocery in its e-commerce operations.
“COVID has driven a dramatic increase in online grocery shopping, and fulfilling these orders profitably has become a major challenge for retailers of all sizes. With the Trace Grocery, we saw an opportunity to help companies like Kroger tackle these challenges head on,” said Travis Katz, president and CEO of California-based BrightDrop. “As online shopping continues to grow, BrightDrop is committed to developing innovative solutions to help our customers keep pace. The Trace Grocery is a perfect example of this.”’
Trade Grocery streamlines and expedites fulfillment by allowing store associates to put orders directly into the unit before stationing it curbside for customer pickup. Shoppers can access their orders, then, without having an employee present, helping stores maximize labor.
Capable of storing 350 pounds of groceries in up to nine compartments, the e-cart can be easily navigated inside and outside a store and includes features like auto-breaking and weatherproofing. Items can stay in the unit at food-safe temperatures for up to four hours.
According to BrightDrop, full-scale availability of Trace Grocer is expected in 2024. The company is also working on advanced customizable capabilities.
General Motors created BrightDrop in 2021 as a one-stop shop ecosystem for the delivery and logistics industry.
Following much anticipation, Texas grocer H-E-B has opened the doors to its first location in the DFW Metroplex. Located in Frisco, the store features many of the retailer’s state-of-the-art amenities and innovations, as well as a True Texas BBQ, a Home by H-E-B department and more.
The 118,000-square-foot store is part of the retailer’s multi-format flagship banner and joins a network of six H-E-B-owned Central Market locations in the DFW area. The Frisco outpost also boasts a pet department, beauty department and large frozen section joined by locally grown produce, handmade sushi, a meat market and an extensive craft beer and wine section with sampling.
Environmental sustainability was top of mind with the build, incorporating several energy efficient inclusions such as CO2 refrigeration units and LED lighting. The site also features extensive native landscaping and an outdoor community space.
“Opening our flagship H-E-B format in the DFW area has been an aspirational goal of ours for many years, and the company has a long-term commitment to serve a broad range of customers and communities across North Texas,” said Stephen Butt, president of the Central Market Division and H-E-B board member. “The DFW Metroplex is among the most competitive markets in the nation, and our H-E-B partners are committed to work hard every day to earn the trust of our customers.”
On May 25, H-E-B started construction on another location for the DFW Metroplex, breaking ground at the site of a new store in Allen, which is set to open in late summer 2023. The grocery chain is also working on a site in Mansfield, about 30 miles from Dallas.
In response to feedback from store managers, Dollar General Corp. has recently launched a new scheduling program, Store Manager (SM) Flex, to increase flexibility and improve work-life balance. The discount retailer’s nearly 19,000 store managers across the country now have more control over their work-week schedules.
“Maintaining open lines of communication with our employees remains a top priority at Dollar General,” shared Kathy Reardon, Dollar General’s EVP and chief people officer. “When we received feedback from our store manager colleagues that many desired more flexibility in determining their schedule, we worked collaboratively to find a solution with SM Flex. We’re excited for this new program and are already hearing from team members about how it’s improving their overall DG employee experience.”
SM Flex offers store managers a simplified platform with various scheduling options aimed at increasing efficiency and providing a more consistent work-week, as well as accommodating employees’ schedules based on their individual store and personal commitments.
The company began testing SM Flex in 2021 with hundreds of store managers piloting the initiative and providing positive reviews of its implementation.
Meanwhile, Dollar General recently reported net income of $678 million, with earnings per share of $2.98, for second quarter ended July 29, compared to $637 million, and $2.69 a share, in the year-ago quarter. Sales increased 9% to $9.4 billion.
Specialty grocer The Fresh Market, Inc. has promoted two key team members at its corporate office. Effective immediately, the following individuals are serving in their new roles:
• Wade Yenny (at left) has been promoted to VP, center store, having previously served as director of grocery merchandising. In this new role, Yenny will oversee grocery, dairy and frozen foods as well as take on space planning and bulk, candy and coffee.
• Peter Mayes (at right) has been promoted to group VP, merchandising. Mayes served as meat and seafood director. In his new role, he will continue to oversee meat and seafood, as well as taking on new functions and direct reports from supply chain, visual merchandising, and the company’s pricing team.
“These promotions are a recognition of the hard work and significant contributions team members have made to The Fresh Market,” said Dan Portnoy, chief merchandising officer at The Fresh Market. “We look forward to their continued contributions in the years to come.”
In a bid to transform food systems on a global basis, several vertical farming organizations pledged their commitment to a vertical farming identity standard and industry manifesto. The manifesto was signed during this week’s Vertical Farming World Congress in Brussels, Germany.
The identity standard and manifesto highlight the urgency of deploying resilient, circular production methods for growing food for increasing global populations. Among other things, the statements emphasize the ways in which indoor farming localizes production and uses significantly less land and water to provide people with pesticide-free produce.
Food tech firm GrubMarket, which provides solutions for supply chain e-commerce, has officially acquired produce company JC Produce. Both businesses are based in California.
JC Produce, which sources fruits and vegetables from around the world, provides more than 30 product SKUs to retail, wholesale and foodservice operations throughout the U.S. The company operates a warehouse facility spanning nearly 40,000 square feet.
Following the acquisition, JC Produce will use GrubMarket’s software-as-a-service platform that aims to provide more seamless financial management, sales and online ordering features, inventory management, lot traceability, grower accounting, and automated routing and logistics. The company will also utilize GrubMarket's mobile e-commerce solution.
“We are excited to join the GrubMarket team, because our teams share the same underlying values, and we are similarly passionate about providing exceptional service to our customers,” said Jacky Chan, owner of JC Produce. “We are also eager to tap into a best-in-class grower network, and to leverage GrubMarket's unique and superior e-commerce and technology-enabled software platform, to bring more high-quality fresh produce to more customers across the country.”
Mike Xu, GrubMarket’s CEO, lauded the addition. “This acquisition enables GrubMarket to further strengthen our presence on the West Coast as well as our sourcing power worldwide. We are thrilled to welcome the JC Produce team to the GrubMarket family,” Xu declared.
Based in San Francisco, GrubMarket operates in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Michigan, New York, New Jersey, Missouri, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington and Canada’s British Columbia, with plans to expand to the rest of the U.S., Canada, and other parts of the world.