The Kroger Company, America’s largest grocery retailer, currently services 11 million customers daily across their multiple banner names and will grow that number with the opening of their eighth grocery delivery fulfillment center. The latest fulfillment center is serving the Aurora, Colorado, area and will deliver groceries to customers up to 90 miles away.
The 300,000-square-foot facility will have more than 200 employees with plans to grow up to 400 employees in the near future. Kroger’s Senior Vice President and Chief of Supply Officer, Gabriel Arreaga said, “We are thrilled to expand and introduce our innovative Kroger Fulfillment Network to one of the fastest growing areas in the country and have the opportunity to grow our workforce.”
While online grocery ordering and delivery sounds simple, each fulfillment center relies on highly automated technology systems. Kroger partnered with the Ocado Group in 2018, a global leader in technology for grocery online retail experiences, to create a unique delivery network that involves artificial intelligence, robotics and automation bringing a “first-of-its-kind” grocery technology to the United States. Within each fulfillment facility, more than 1,000 bots move around massive 3D grids known as “The Hive.” The Hive has bins containing all available products and deliverable items for fulfilling orders. The bots gather items from The Hive and they are then delivered to “pick stations” for the products to be sorted for delivery. Once sorted, the groceries are loaded into temperature-controlled refrigerated delivery vans. Each van can hold up to 20 orders and each delivery trip is optimized by a learning algorithm to find the most efficient route based on time of day and changing construction factors.
Currently, Kroger has fulfillment centers already operating in Ohio, Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan, Maryland and Texas, with further plans for centers in Arizona, North Carolina, California, Florida and a second Ohio location. This innovation has helped name Kroger No. 4 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.