Kroger expands unmanned ecommerce delivery pilot

Date : 18 March 2019

Kroger is expanding its autonomous grocery delivery service to Houston, following an earlier test in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Almost 1,000 deliveries completed as part of pilot programme

Kroger is working with self-driving vehicle company, Nuro, for the expansion of this programme. It will operate from two Kroger stores in the Houston market, making deliveries into four zip codes. Like Scottsdale, the pilot will start with Nuro's self-driving Toyota Prius fleet before introducing the next generation of the custom driverless vehicle later this year. Through the first stage of the pilot, Kroger and Nuro have successfully and safely completed thousands of deliveries to customers in Scottsdale.

Potential to significantly scale-up in Houston

The initial pilot has confirmed for Kroger the flexibility and benefits provided by autonomous vehicles. Customers have also been very receptive to having their groceries delivered in this way. Through moving the test to Houston, where Kroger has a significant presence, there is an opportunity to significantly scale up the programme in the future.

Improving the economics of grocery ecommerce

Self-driving vehicles could be an important component in improving the economics of grocery ecommerce. Last-mile delivery represent a significant proportion of overall costs. Retailers in North America are currently testing several fulfilment and delivery models as they look to reduce channel costs. These include hyper-local robotic fulfilment, third-party crowd-sourced delivery platforms and shared, centralised distribution models.

Kroger is just one of many retailers pushing forward with automated last mile trials. Check out our delivering the goods blog, which rounds up all the latest developments and what’s driving them.