CINCINNATI – The Kroger Co. unveiled two components in the company’s strategy of creating a seamless retail experience for shoppers.
The retailer announced a pilot project that will deliver groceries to customers via an on-road, fully autonomous vehicle. The project is a partnership with Nuro, a developer of self-driving vehicles designed for local transportation. During the test, customers can place same-day delivery orders through Kroger’s ClickList ordering system and Nuro’s app. Orders will be delivered by Nuro’s fleet of autonomous vehicles.
“We are incredibly excited about the potential of our innovative partnership with Nuro to bring the future of grocery delivery to customers today,” Yael Cosset, Kroger’s chief digital officer, said in a statement. “As part of Restock Kroger, we have already started to redefine the grocery customer experience and expand the coverage area for our anything, anytime and anywhere offering. Partnering with Nuro, a leading technology company, will create customer value by providing Americans access to fast and convenient delivery at a fair price.”
Kroger plans to announce the test market location soon; the project will launch in the fall.
“Unmanned delivery will be a game-changer for local commerce, and together with Kroger, we’re thrilled to test this new delivery experience to bring grocery customers new levels of convenience and value,” said Dave Ferguson, co-founder of Nuro. “Our safe, reliable, and affordable service, combined with Kroger’s ubiquitous brand, is a powerful first step in our mission to accelerate the benefits of robotics for everyday life.”
A second piece of the strategy is Kroger’s new Digital HQ which will open in downtown Cincinnati.
Starting in July, Kroger will move about 600 existing digital jobs to the new office. The company expands to expand its digital team to more than 1,000 people over the next three years.
“Kroger is creating a seamless shopping environment, so customers can choose how to engage with us, both instore and online, because the future of retail will include both physical and digital experiences," Cosset explained. “As part of Restock Kroger, our plan to redefine the grocery customer experience, we are investing in innovative digital and technology infrastructure. Our new Digital HQ is an important step on our journey to create a truly seamless shopping environment.”
Kroger continues to strengthen its credentials in the digital space. In May the company announced a partnership with Ocado, an online supermarket retailer based in the United Kingdom, and merged with meal kit delivery company Home Chef in June.
On June 22, Kroger reported first-quarter digital sales increased by 66 percent, and its existing seamless shopping experience currently reaches approximately 75 percent of its customers. This includes Kroger’s network of ClickList locations in which stores offer home delivery through Instacart and other partners, in addition to home ship capability. Kroger’s goal is to reach 100 percent of its customers with the seamless experience.