Pushing the pedal to the metal on innovation, Kroger has announced a key new partnership to further enhance its efficiencies. The retailer has tapped Drone Express, a division of TELEGRID Technologies to take grocery delivery to the skies, offering shoppers the chance to have their items delivered with the company’s autonomous drones.
"Kroger's new drone delivery pilot is part of the evolution of our rapidly growing and innovative e-commerce business, which includes pickup, delivery, and ship and reached more than $10 billion in sales in 2020," said Kroger's Jody Kalmbach, Group Vice President of Product Experience. "The pilot reinforces the importance of flexibility and immediacy to customers, powered by modern, cost-effective, and efficient last-mile solutions. We're excited to test drone delivery and gain insights that will inform expansion plans as well as future customer solutions."
A press release explained that the pilot will offer customers flexibility as Drone Express technology allows package delivery to the location of a customer's smartphone, simply meaning a customer will be able to order delivery of picnic supplies to a park, sunscreen to the beach, or condiments to a backyard cookout.
Kroger is designing bundled product offerings ideal for meeting customer needs within the current weight limits for drone delivery, which is about five pounds. Customers can place orders and have them delivered within as little as 15 minutes.
"The launch of the pilot in Centerville is the culmination of months of meticulous research and development by Kroger and Drone Express to better serve and meet the needs of our customers," said Ethan Grob, Kroger's Director of Last Mile Strategy and Product. "We look forward to progressing from test flights to customer deliveries this spring, introducing one more way for our customers to experience Kroger."
Drone Express will commence test flights this week near the Kroger Marketplace in Centerville, Ohio. The flights will be managed by licensed Drone Express pilots from an on-site trailer with additional off-site monitoring. Customer deliveries are scheduled to begin later this spring, and a second pilot is scheduled to launch this summer at a Ralph’s store in California.
"Autonomous drones have unlimited potential to improve everyday life, and our technology opens the way to safe, secure, environmentally friendly deliveries for Kroger customers," said Beth Flippo, Chief Technology Officer, TELEGRID. "The possibilities for customers are endless; we can enable Kroger customers to send chicken soup to a sick friend or get fast delivery of olive oil if they run out while cooking dinner."
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