CINCINNATI - The Kroger Co. and Drone Express have unveiled a pilot partnership to offer grocery delivery via autonomous drones.
"Kroger's new drone delivery pilot is part of the evolution of our rapidly growing and innovative e-commerce business – which includes pickup, delivery, and ship and reached more than $10 billion in sales in 2020," said Kroger's Jody Kalmbach, group vice president of product experience. "The pilot reinforces the importance of flexibility and immediacy to customers, powered by modern, cost-effective, and efficient last-mile solutions. We're excited to test drone delivery and gain insights that will inform expansion plans as well as future customer solutions."
The pilot will offer customers flexibility as Drone Express technology allows package delivery to the location of a customer's smartphone, not only to a street address, meaning customers will be able to order delivery of picnic supplies to a park, sunscreen to the beach, or condiments to a backyard cookout, according to the company.
Kroger is designing bundled product offerings ideal for meeting customer needs within the current weight limits for drone delivery, which is about five pounds. Examples include baby care bundle with wipes and formula, a child wellness bundle with over-the-counter medications and fluids, and a S'mores bundle with graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate. Using Kroger.com/DroneDelivery, customers can place orders and have eligible orders delivered within as little as 15 minutes, Kroger said.
"Autonomous drones have unlimited potential to improve everyday life, and our technology opens the way to safe, secure, environmentally friendly deliveries for Kroger customers," said Beth Flippo, Chief Technology Officer, TELEGRID. "The possibilities for customers are endless – we can enable Kroger customers to send chicken soup to a sick friend or get fast delivery of olive oil if they run out while cooking dinner."
After test flights are completed, drone deliveries are scheduled to begin later this spring, and a second pilot is scheduled to launch this summer at a Ralphs store in California.