Albertsons is set to become the first national grocer in the US to pilot and implement a robotic picking and micro-fulfilment solution for grocery ecommerce.
Utilising a range of ecommerce models
Albertsons is partnering with Takeoff Technologies to launch an automated ecommerce fulfilment centre. The pilot is set to launch next year. The retailer currently operates a range of ecommerce models, including home delivery, store pickup and same-day delivery through Instacart. The pilot comes as part of Albertsons’ focus on the cost structure of ecommerce, with the retailer seeking to find the cost optimal solution to offer delivery at scale. Commenting on the plans, Narayan Iyengar, SVP digital and ecommerce at Albertsons, said,
“While our partnership with Takeoff Technologies will streamline ecommerce fulfilment and improve our efficiencies, we’re excited that Takeoff’s AI solution will make it even easier for customers to get their groceries how and when they want. This is a major step in our commitment to being a customer-centric player in the digital food and wellness ecosystem.”
Significantly reducing the time to pick orders
Takeoff Technologies is aiming to develop hyperlocal fulfilment centres that have one-eighth the footprint of a typical supermarket due to innovative robotics and compact vertical spaces. The compact nature of the solution means that retailers can repurpose existing stores by turning them into micro distribution centres. The solution will be piloted in an existing Albertsons store.
Customer orders will be sent to the automated system, with Takeoff taking over the fulfilment process. This will use artificial intelligence and a system of totes and conveyors to deliver the items to a store employee. This reduces the amount of time necessary for individual customer orders to be processed.
Takeoff is working with several regional and national retail chains in the US, with several sites expected to launch next year. Earlier in October, Sedano's Supermarkets, one of the largest Hispanic grocers in the US, announced that it would be implementing Takeoff’s automated solution.
Robotic solutions viewed as an opportunity to drive operational efficiencies
Retailers are increasingly looking at automated fulfilment solutions to improve the efficiency of their ecommerce operations:
- Walmart is partnering with Alert Innovation to pilot an in-store robotic picking system for grocery ecommerce orders. The Alphabot technology is to be piloted at a supercenter in Salem, New Hampshire
- Kroger has announced a strategic partnership with Ocado which will see them jointly develop up to 20 automated fulfilment centres for grocery ecommerce in the US
- Online specialist, Boxed.com, has introduced an autonomously guided vehicle (AGV) into its Dallas distribution centre as an alternative to a large-scale conveyor-belt system