Sep 21, 2022
Kroger is launching an electronic temperature-controlled cart to speed up its curbside fulfillment.
The cart, called the BrightDrop Trace Grocery Cart, was initially tested at Kroger stores in Lexington and Versailles, KY, and is marked for wider rollout as the pilot resulted in a noticeable improvement in the customer and associate experience, according to the Detroit News.
The cart is equipped with nine temperature-controlled secure drawers in which employees can store grocery orders before rolling the cart to the curb. It is mechanized to allow one employee to easily pull 350 pounds of groceries at a comfortable walking pace. The next wave of rollout will be limited, but companies expect the cart to be widely available by 2024.
Curbside pickup saw an unprecedented spike in adoption at the start of the novel coronavirus pandemic, as government regulations limited in-store purchases and concerns about the possibility of contracting COVID-19 prevented shoppers from shopping. enter stores.
BrightDrop Trace Grocery | Electric powered grocery cart
The popularity of curbside pickup has created challenges for retailers who have had to factor in the cost of investing in additional labor and technology as well as losing impulse purchases, such as a recent Washington Post explains the article.
Sam’s Club, for example, has added a $4 surcharge for those using curbside pickup without a premium Sam’s Club Plus membership. Experts worry, however, that these surcharges at mainstream grocery stores could drive customers towards competitors, especially since customers sometimes use the curb to avoid delivery charges with services like Instacart.
Speeding up the sidewalk seems to be what customers are looking for. In late 2020, a Rakuten survey found that a large majority of customers (78%) considered having their order ready when they arrived for pickup as the most important part of the curbside pickup experience.
Kroger’s new cart isn’t the only way retailers are using technology to speed up the curbside pickup process.
Panera Bread, for example, has started using GPS technology to alert store staff that customers at the curb are approaching the store, according to a blog from the National Retail Federation (NRF).
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What do you think are the biggest challenges retailers face with curbside pickup and how can technology solve them? Do you think the electronic cart technology discussed in the article will improve the curbside pickup experience for customers and associates?
“Spending more on training might be a better investment.”