Like so many normal activities affected by the pandemic, grocery shopping may never be the same going forward. Grocers pivoted their usual business practices in the last 18 months as a result of the pandemic. Now, many large brands in Florida, and across the country, are taking even bigger steps to define their own “new normal” as they continue to evolve their business strategies.
“We will see more changes take place between 2020 and 2030 in the grocery industry that we have witnessed in the prior 100 years,” said Brittain Ladd, Chief Marketing Officer with KPI Solutions. “We are absolutely going to see more robotics in the stores and we’re going to see the use of mobile retail.”
He said in the very near future Floridians will be able to hail a store on their phone, like calling an Uber. A van full of groceries will show up at the customers’ home or apartment or wherever and the customer can just shop right from the van.
Customers may also go to a grocery store or drug store and instead of having to go into the store, they can go through a drive through and pick up the items they need. Or some will chose to call a grocer and have either groceries or fully prepared meals delivered right to their doors within 15 minutes or so by local delivery people on bicycles or other delivery vehicles. Instead of people selecting the products within the store, robotics will gather the items in large warehouses.
“The actual grocery industry is being transformed. It’s not changing. It’s being transformed to the benefit of the customer. Pretty soon, the customer will never have to go to a grocery store if they don’t want to because they’ll be able to order things on an hourly basis or a daily basis and what they order will be delivered in minutes. It’s changing everything that we know about groceries.” Ladd said.
That change can be seen in Florida with Kroger.
Aside from a single Harris Teeter store in Fernandina Beach, Kroger has no physical stores in Florida.
On June 9, Kroger arrived virtually in the Sunshine State—bringing what it said was a differentiated, flexible and personalized delivery-only offering to Florida for the first time.
The grocer unveiled a multimillion dollar 375,000-square-foot delivery warehouse in Groveland, built in partnership with British technology firm Ocado. Powered by Ocado’s sophisticated robotics and software, Kroger Delivery will offer advantages in fresh food and customer service in a way, it claims, that existing competitors in the state cannot.
Kroger is counting on Ocado technologies to provide more accurate fulfillment rates, a lower cost to pick, and efficiencies in delivery routing and other logistics. Deliveries will be made by dedicated drivers in branded, temperature controlled delivery trucks and will not require tips. Kroger is also offering its advanced loyalty program to shoppers in Florida.
The launch of Kroger Delivery is now live in Orlando and Tampa, and shopping in Jacksonville, available through a spoke location, is going live later this month.
“The Kroger Delivery network combines the efficiency of technology with the experience of our associates to deliver fresh, affordable food, and a consistent and rewarding customer experience,” said Gabriel Arreaga, Kroger’s chief supply chain officer. “We’re proud to launch Kroger Delivery in Florida, a new geography for Kroger and a milestone moment in our history to further build on our success as one of America’s leading retailers and e-commerce companies.”
“Kroger is uniquely positioned to transform grocery e-commerce in Florida because of our differentiated offering that brings high-quality fresh groceries directly to our customers’ doorstep. The service features fresh food, adult beverage, and personal care products, affordable prices and promotions, and a best-in-class fuel rewards loyalty program,” said Bill Bennett, Kroger’s vice president of e-commerce. “This innovative, customer-centric offering is delivered by our professionally trained and friendly Kroger Delivery associates, providing our customers with anything, anytime, anywhere and broadening our reach and products to new geographies.”
“We are pleased Kroger selected the Tampa Bay and Hillsborough County regions to expand the company’s e-commerce reach in the State of Florida,” said Pat Kemp, chair of the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners. “Kroger will be an integral part of our community as they expand and grow here. We look forward to providing them the partnership and supportive environment needed to develop a talented workforce and successful business operations.”
“Every citizen in Jacksonville should have access to affordable, healthy, and fresh foods,” said Lenny Curry, mayor of Jacksonville. “We welcome Kroger into our community and are very encouraged that this delivery service will fill an important gap for people who don’t have easy access to groceries.”