Posted By: Miriam McNabb
Drone Express and Kroger begin testing drone grocery delivery in a pilot program – part of the retailer’s goal of providing customers with “anything, anytime, anywhere,” says a company press release.
The Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR) and Drone Express, a division of TELEGRID Technologies, Inc., will offer package delivery near the Kroger Marketplace in Centerville, Ohio.
“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.”
How the Drone Grocery Delivery Pilot Works
The Drone Express delivery system offers customers with the option to have their package delivered to wherever they – and their smartphone – are. Customers can order a picnic delivered to a park, for example: or band-aids to a skatepark.
Kroger is designing bundled product offerings ideal for meeting customer needs within the current weight limits for drone delivery, which is about five pounds. As an illustration, Kroger will offer a 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.
“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.”
Licensed Drone Express pilots will manage the process from an on-site trailer “with additional off-site monitoring,” which could mean that the flights currently require visual observers. Customer deliveries are scheduled to begin later this spring, and a second pilot is scheduled to launch this summer at a Ralphs store in California.
“The launch of the pilot in Centerville is the culmination of months of meticulous research and development by Kroger and Drone Express to better serve and meet the needs of our customers,” said Ethan Grob, Kroger’s director of last mile strategy and product. “We look forward to progressing from test flights to customer deliveries this spring, introducing one more way for our customers to experience Kroger.”
Recent research indicates that communities who have the opportunity to experience drone delivery first-hand have a very positive view of drone delivery and commercial drone technology. In Centerville, the community is ready to help push the boundaries of delivery forward. “Kroger and Drone Express made a great choice in piloting this program in Centerville – a community with a robust business network focused on progress and stability near the birthplace of aviation,” said Centerville Mayor Brooks Compton. “Families here have the power to transform grocery delivery around the nation and the globe. We look forward to placing our first order.”