Kroger plans to launch a marketplace this fall through a partnership with French platform provider Mirakl, adding 50,000 items from third-party sellers initially to its assortment, including toys and household goods in addition to specialty foods, international foods and natural and organic items.
The marketplace is an expansion of Kroger Ship, an e-grocery service that launched in 2018. It’s available to customers in Cincinnati, Houston, Louisville, Nashville and the mid-Atlantic region (Virginia, West Virginia, Raleigh-Durham). Orders can be picked up curbside or in some markets delivered through a partnership with Instacart.
“Our customers are increasingly turning to our ecommerce solutions provided at Kroger.com for their grocery and household essential needs,” said Jody Kalmbach, Kroger’s group vice president of product experience, in a release. “To better serve our customers, we’re continuing to invest in technology that enables us to expand our digital services to deliver anything, anytime, anywhere.”
Home delivery is free on orders of $35 or more through Ship, otherwise it costs $4.99 per order. Shoppers can also earn loyalty points on fuel through the program. That last perk is expected in the Walmart+ subscription service targeted at Amazon Prime, whose launch has been delayed twice now since the spring.
Kroger, the nation’s largest grocery retailer, has been consistently ahead of the curve in terms of its digital transformation. It’s building a 350,000-square-foot fulfillment center in Frederick, MD just for fulfilling online orders in Washington, DC, Baltimore and Philadelphia, as it doesn’t have stores in those areas. The facility will be powered by Kroger’s fulfillment automation partner, UK-based Ocado, one of 20 planned in the U.S.
Other Kroger-Ocado automated fulfillment centers are under construction in Monroe, OH – the first scheduled to open, in early 2021 – Groveland, FL, Atlanta, Dallas and Pleasant Prairie, WI.
Kroger also is piloting autonomous delivery in Houston, in partnership with self-driving robotics company Nuro.
Mirakl’s marketplace customers include Office Depot, Best Buy, Walmart, 1-800-Flowers.com and Urban Outfitters.