ShopRite to pilot automated fulfillment center

Kroger is not the only grocery retailer seeking to streamline omnichannel operations with fulfillment center automation.

ShopRite parent company Wakefern Food Corp. is opening a fulfillment center in Clifton, NJ that leverages hyperlocal, automated technology from Takeoff Technologies. Known as micro-fulfillment centers (MFCs), the Takeoff Technology-based facilities are designed to leverage automation at a hyperlocal scale.

The automated technology uses advanced robotics in the fulfilment center, where orders of up to 60 grocery items can be assembled in minutes. The ultimate goals of the pilot are to increase speed and lower costs for retailers while improving the overall customer experience for online grocery shopping.

Wakefern intends to utilize the new MFC to expand its capabilities to support its ShopRite from Home program, which currently offers pick-up and home delivery services across most ShopRite store locations, under a scalable model. The new fulfillment center will serve select ShopRite stores operated by Wakefern member Inserra Supermarkets in North Jersey and New York. Customers will continue to place orders through ShopRite from Home in the same manner.

Takeoff Technologies and Wakefern launched their partnership this month with the opening of the new fulfillment center in Clifton, and an agreement in place to open additional sites in the future.

“We are excited to partner with Takeoff Technologies to see how their hyperlocal automation technology will benefit our cooperative, retail members and shoppers,” said Steve P. Henig, Wakefern’s VP of digital commerce & analytics. “We are really proud of our eGrocery shopping platform, ShopRite from Home, and believe this partnership will enhance our online shopping service.”

ShopRite is piloting an automated fulfillment center as The Kroger Co. continues with ambitious plans to open 20 high-tech customer fulfillment centers (CFCs) with digital and robotic capabilities across the country. Kroger recently broke ground on its second $55 million automated warehouse facility, developed in partnership with dedicated online grocery retailer Ocado, in Groveland, Fla. The first CFC is under construction in Monroe, Ohio.