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Here’s how technology will better serve Kroger online shoppers in southeast Michigan and the world

 Here’s how technology will better serve Kroger online shoppers in southeast Michigan and the world

The Trace Grocery mechanism. Photo courtesy of BrightDrop

Initial pilot program showed noticeable improvement in customer satisfaction with BrightDrop’s eCart invention

One of southeast Michigan’s leading food retailers is on the verge of making order fulfillment and pickup more efficient for online grocery purchases.

Palo Alto, California-based BrightDrop recently announced Kroger is slated to be the first customer to introduce its Trace Grocery mechanism into its e-commerce operations in late-2022.

The company’s new temperature-controlled eCart will help streamline order fulfillment, BrightDrop said.

“Online grocery is a rapidly expanding market that’s expected to reach $240 billion by 2025,” BrightDrop said in a Sept. 19 press release. “Kroger, America’s largest grocer, is slated to be the first customer to introduce the BrightDrop Trace Grocery into its e-commerce operations, beginning this year.”

The Covid-19 pandemic has driven the dramatic increase in online grocery shopping, said BrightDrop President and CEO Travis Katz.

“With the Trace Grocery, we saw an opportunity to help companies like Kroger tackle these challenges head on,” Katz said. “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.”

BrightDrop’s innovation was designed through a series of rapid prototype builds, market research and customer pilot programs over the past year. These insights led to the development, testing, refinement and now commercialization of the Trace Grocery, BrightDrop’s first product purpose-built for online grocery and retail order fulfillment.

Focused on speeding up online grocery order fulfillment and pickup, the Trace Grocery is designed to provide retailers the efficiency and cost-savings benefits their businesses need, and the shopper the convenience and flexibility they expect from online grocery services, BrightDrop explained in the release.

“Today’s online order fulfillment process involves many steps within the store to identify, collect and store products before putting them in the hands of customers,” the company explained. “Trace Grocery helps streamline that process for grocers by allowing employees to put orders directly into the unit before stationing it curbside for customer retrieval.

“With access given after digital verification, Trace Grocery is compatible with most grocers’ existing online fulfillment apps, enabling flexibility for customers when retrieving their purchases. The unit’s ability to easily move inside and outside of a store, while providing access to customers without an employee present, allows grocers to explore new ways to get products closer to shoppers’ doorsteps.”

The Trace Grocery features and benefits include:

  • Temperature management to store items at food-safe temperatures for up to four hours

  • Propulsion-assistance to move up to 350 pounds of groceries, helping reduce physical strain on the labor force

  • Auto-braking to stop the electric motor that matches an operator’s walking speed up to 3 mph

  • Nine compartments to segment items by order, temperature and product type for optimized pickups

  • Flexibility to easily maneuver inside and outside of a grocer’s store to help reduce costly staging and infrastructure requirements

  • Weatherproofing to handle variable temperatures and outdoor elements with ease

Full-scale availability of the Trace Grocery is expected in 2024 with advanced customizable capabilities planned for future release, the company stated.

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Ed Wright

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