Kroger is partnering with Telegrid's Drone Express division to pilot drone grocery delivery via autonomous drones in the Midwest. The company said that the pilot expands its seamless ecosystem and delivers on consumer convenience demands.
"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 Jody Kalmbach, Kroger 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."
One of the key convenience features that Kroger touted about the drone delivery pilot is that Drone Express’ technology enables delivery to the location of a customer’s smartphone, rather than solely to a street address — making a picnic delivery of food, beach delivery of sunscreen or last-minute condiment delivery to a backyard cookout potential use-cases.
Kroger also is creating bundled product offerings that deliver complementary products that fit within the drones’ 5-lb. weight limit. Initial bundles include the baby care bundle with wipes and formula; a child wellness bundle with OTC medications and fluids; and s’mores bundle with marshmallows, graham crackers and chocolate.
"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 at 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."
Test flights will begin later in the week of May 3 near the Kroger Marketplace in Centerville, Ohio. Flights will be managed by Drone Express pilots from an on-site trailer with additional offsite monitoring. Deliveries are set to begin later in the spring, and the company will add a pilot store at a Ralphs location in California this summer.
"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."