The automation fad is catching up fast in the retail sector where the leading players keep on innovating to fight competition and keep pace with e-commerce retailers like Amazon (AMZN). Kroger (KR) has now joined hands with Nuro, a manufacturer of autonomous vehicles for commercial use, to pilot an on-road, fully autonomous delivery service.
Offering a new experience to customers, the service will make grocery delivery accessible everywhere. It will allow customers to make same-day delivery orders on the online apps of both Kroger and Nuro.
The deal is a significant milestone for Nuro as it marks the first commercial deployment of the company’s hardware and software. An extensive pilot of the innovative program is expected to commence this fall with focus on delivery of local goods and services. Meanwhile it is not yet known in which areas it will be available in the long term.
During the pilot, which will be limited to one market initially, the accuracy of the delivery times, customers reaction and interactions between Nuro and regular vehicles will be closely monitored.
While enjoying the new hassle-free grocery shopping, customers also stand to benefit from the low prices offered by Kroger. The initiative complements the company’s recent experiments such as automation of store shelf warehouses.
“We are incredibly excited about the potential of our innovative partnership with Nuro to bring the future of grocery delivery to customers today. We have already started to redefine the grocery customer experience and expand the coverage area for our anything, anytime and anywhere offering,” said Kroger’s Chief Digital Officer Yael Cosset.
In addition to groceries and laundry, households can also avail the service of Nuro for collecting and delivering sundry items from one place to another within the city. However, the items to be delivered should fit into the two compartments of Nuro.
For Nuro, the partnership could become a long-term association of significant financial leverage, considering the extensive presence of Kroger stores across the country and the company’s aggressive efforts to extend same-day delivery to all areas.
Meanwhile, customers who are used to Kroger’s same-day, front-door delivery may find it a bit difficult to take delivery from the Nuro vehicles that reach only up to the curbside.
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