A new dark store for Save Mart uses robotics, machine learning and AI to pick and move orders.
Save Mart Cos. recently tapped robotics startup Fulfil Solutions to create a fully automated platform inside a micro-fulfillment warehouse in Mountain View, Calif. Unveiled on Feb. 27, that warehouse near San Francisco is the first of its kind for Fulfil and is powered by technologies including advanced AI, machine learning and optical and sensor technologies.
Inside the dark store for Save Mart, robots pick groceries – splitting and sequencing items to prevent damage – and move packed bags to areas where drivers pick up orders and transport them for same-day delivery or pickup. The robots are designed to handle refrigerated and frozen items as well as shelf-stable goods and the retailer can keep tabs on orders via data that tracks every item’s location, origin and expiration.
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The tech company claims that the robotic system helps grocers like Save Mart better manage inventories, reduce substitution errors and optimize operational costs compared to manual setups. “To address the many challenges facing online grocery, retailers must adopt efficient automation that substantially reduces costs and provides the accuracy, quality and convenience customers expect,” said Mir Aamir, Fulfil’s CEO and president. “That’s why our fully automated solution represents such a revolutionary step forward. Not only does it make online grocery retailing profitable while meeting customer expectations, but it also prioritizes social and environmental responsibility by cutting carbon emissions, eliminating food waste and enabling healthier food to reach more households at lower cost.”
Save Mart’s executive chairman of the board, Shane Sampson, said that the system will enhance the company’s Lucky Now e-commerce service. “The Save Mart Cos. is thrilled to embrace innovative technologies that help deliver on-demand groceries to our customers on their own terms,” Sampson declared. “With Lucky Now, powered by Fulfil’s robotic automation, we are excited to offer the best value on local and fresh products that our shoppers have come to know and trust.”
As Fulfil rolls out its new platform, the startup has gained more backers with $60 million in fresh Series B funding. That funding was led by venture capital firm Eclipse with participation from Khosla Ventures and DCVC.
Based in Modesto, Calif., The Save Mart Cos. operates more than 200 retail stores under the banners of Save Mart, Lucky California and FoodMaxx. In addition to its retail operation, the company also operates SMART Refrigerated Transport and is a partner in Super Store Industries, which owns and operates a distribution center in Lathrop, Calif., and the Sunnyside Farms dairy-processing plant in Turlock, Calif. Save Mart is No. 55 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.