Kroger is offering delivery of fresh products to more customers by opening a new spoke location in Louisville, Ky.
The 50,000-sq.-ft. facility will collaborate with the customer fulfillment center in Monroe, Ohio and serve as a last-mile cross-dock location that expands Kroger Delivery’s ability to serve more customers in the Greater Louisville area.
“Kroger Delivery is part of our rapidly expanding seamless ecosystem that provides customers with fresh and quality products — anytime and anywhere,” said Bill Bennett, vice president and head of e-commerce. “We are thrilled to expand Kroger’s offerings to more Louisville customers with a truly differentiated customer experience.”
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The spoke facility will employ up to 161 full-time associates. Also, as part of Kroger’s commitment to end hunger and eliminate waste through its Zero Hunger | Zero Waste social environmental impact plan, the site will use recyclable bags and is working to partner with local food banks.
“Local Kentucky residents can use Kroger.com or the Kroger app to check the weekly circular, select personalized digital coupons, search products by dietary preference and ultimately place their order,” he said. “Customers will enjoy receiving their orders directly from our refrigerated trucks and delivered by trained Kroger uniformed associates, giving customers an unparalleled first-class delivery experience.”
Local shoppers also have access to the newly launched Boost by Kroger annual membership program. For either $59 or $99 per year, Boost provides customers with benefits like unlimited free delivery on orders of $35 or more and two Fuel Points for every $1 spent on groceries and general merchandise purchases through delivery, pickup and in stores. Kroger estimates the membership can save customers more than $1,000 per year on fuel and grocery delivery.
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“Louisville has long been a driver of innovation in the logistics and in the food and beverage industries, and as such, Louisville is uniquely poised to fuel the workforce and innovation demands necessary to drive these industries into the future,” said Mayor Greg Fischer. “I am excited to join our partners at Kroger to celebrate this new dynamic facility that will drive high-quality customer service.”
The expansion in Louisville represents an extension of a partnership between Kroger and Ocado, a world leader in technology for grocery e-commerce. In 2018, the companies announced a collaboration to establish a delivery network that combines artificial intelligence, advanced robotics and automation in a bold new way, bringing first-of-its-kind technology to America.
The delivery network relies on highly automated fulfillment centers. At the hub sites, more than 1,000 bots move around giant 3-D grids, orchestrated by proprietary control systems. The grid, known as The Hive, contains totes with products that are ready-to-deliver customer orders.
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As customers’ orders near delivery times, bots retrieve products from The Hive and present them at pick stations for items to be sorted for delivery, a process governed by algorithms that ensures items are intelligently packed. For example, fragile items are placed on top, bags are evenly weighted and each order is optimized to fit into the lowest number of recyclable bags, reducing plastic use.
Kroger’s end-to-end cold solutions keep groceries fresh once loaded into customized refrigerated delivery vans, which can store up to 20 orders. Powerful machine learning algorithms optimize delivery routes, considering factors such as road conditions and optimal fuel efficiency.
Vans may travel up to 90 miles with orders from the hub and spoke facilities to make deliveries. Associates at the facility will deliver orders within their service area, adding ZIP codes as demand grows.
Kroger currently operates customer fulfillment centers in Monroe, Ohio; Groveland, Fla.; Forest Park, Ga. (Atlanta); Pleasant Prairie, Wis.; Dallas; Romulus, Mich. (Detroit); and Aurora, Colo. (Denver), with additional customer fulfillment centers slated for California; Frederick, Md.; Phoenix; Cleveland; and Charlotte, N.C., as well as South Florida and the Northeast.