Kroger is celebrating the official opening of its Customer Fulfillment Center (CFC) in Forest Park, GA, a city south of Atlanta, powered by Ocado Group.
The opening marks an expansion of Kroger’s national fulfillment network, providing the region with an e-commerce delivery service that combines vertical integration, machine learning, and robotics with affordable, friendly, and fast delivery of grocery items and fresh food, said the company in a press release.
“We’re proud to launch Kroger Delivery in metro Atlanta with future expansion plans throughout Georgia and beyond, a true milestone moment further accelerating our ability to provide our customers with fresh food on their doorsteps and create more job opportunities,” said Gabriel Arreaga, Kroger’s senior vice president and chief supply chain officer.
With the collaboration of state and local government authorities that provided the infrastructure, Kroger is advancing its innovative and industry-leading e-commerce operation, delivering groceries to homes across the region, including communities without the need for physical stores.
“As a growing hub for technology and logistics innovations, the Peach State is proud to celebrate the opening of this new facility that will bring the latest in grocery delivery to hardworking Georgians,” said Governor Brian P. Kemp. “Georgia’s pro-business environment and highly skilled workforce will continue to attract the companies and innovators building the infrastructure and jobs of tomorrow.”
The Customer Experience
After placing an order via Kroger.com or the Kroger app, customers in regions where a CFC is located have groceries delivered by a knowledgeable Kroger Delivery associate in a temperature-controlled van.
The opening of the Forest Park CFC follows another e-commerce achievement for the retailer in the area, the recent launch of the Boost by Kroger Plus annual membership program. For either $59 or $99 per year, Boost provides customers access to benefits like free delivery and the opportunity to earn up to $1 off per gallon of fuel twice as often.
“With direct access to three interstate highways, an international airport, and railways, our city has become a strategic partner that supports large-scale commerce and growing industries,” said Forest Park Mayor Angelyne Butler. “This type of economic development progress only helps to strengthen our message that it is a new day in Forest Park. We trust that our public-private partnership with Kroger will help pave the way for more high-wage jobs and serve as an investment toward our goal of creating an even more robust business climate.”
Kroger Delivery Operations
The launch in metro Atlanta represents an extension of a partnership between Kroger and Ocado. In 2018, the companies announced a collaboration to establish a delivery network that combines artificial intelligence, advanced robotics, and automation in a bold new way, bringing first-of-its-kind technology to America.
The Forest Park CFC carries thousands of popular grocery products and represents one of the models engineered for the flexible Kroger fulfillment network. The CFC can fulfill thousands of orders per day.
Kroger Delivery is a vertically integrated network, enabling coverage of up to 90 miles from the hub location in Forest Park. More than 1,000 bots whizz around giant 3D grids in these highly automated CFCs, orchestrated by proprietary air-traffic control systems in the unlicensed spectrum. The grid, known as The Hive, contains totes with products and ready-to-deliver customer orders.
As customers’ orders near their delivery times, the bots retrieve products from The Hive, which are presented at stations for items to be sorted for delivery, a process governed by algorithms that ensure items are intelligently sorted. For example, fragile items are placed on top, bags are evenly weighted, and each order is optimized to fit into the fewest number of bags, reducing plastic use.
Once completed, orders are loaded into a temperature-controlled Kroger Delivery van, storing up to 20 orders. Powerful machine learning algorithms optimize delivery routes dynamically, considering road conditions and optimal fuel efficiency.
The Forest Park CFC currently employs more than 250 associates and continues to hire, with roles focusing on customer service and engagement, engineering, operations, inventory and quality management, and transportation. To view available careers, visit Jobs.Kroger.com.