It’s showtime for Kroger


It’s showtime for Kroger

Courtesy of Kroger

More than two years after announcing plans to build a network of robot-run fulfillment centers, Kroger and Ocado will begin opening those facilities in 2021, potentially giving the nation’s largest supermarket operator a leg up in handling the accelerated pace of e-commerce orders the industry is seeing.

The industry will be watching closely to see not only what’s inside those voluminous customer fulfillment centers, but also how the companies will handle same-day delivery and pickup orders — two channels that have exploded since Kroger and Ocado first announced their tie-up.

“They’ve had to spend a lot to get the point that they are currently in, but 2021 is the year when I think they start to reap the rewards from some of these things and we start to see the impact this kind of automation can have on the industry,” said Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail.

Kroger has launched numerous other initiatives that will be closely watched, said Jason Goldberg, chief commerce strategy officer at Publics, including its partnership with Walgreensdigital marketplace and ghost kitchen pilot.

“Kroger is a special case, because they invested in a variety of things that are almost contradictory, and they’re not all going to pay off,” said Goldberg. “We don’t know if the future is going to be won by pickup from individual stores or if it’s going to be won by delivering groceries from a big fulfillment center, but the odds are if one of Kroger’s bets pays off really well, it’s going to be because the other one is less popular.”