Kroger announced it will build the second of a planned 20 automated distribution centers in partnership with UK grocer Ocado for fulfilling ecommerce orders in Groveland, FL, about 30 miles west of Orlando.
The so-called CFC model (customer fulfillment center), built by Kroger and powered by Ocado’s automation technology, uses advanced digital and robotic capabilities. These so-called “sheds” will be replicated to serve Kroger customers across the country.
Last month, Kroger announced plans for the Florida location as well as another somewhere in the Mid-Atlantic region. The first CFC will be built in Monroe, OH, outside Cincinnati; no date has been given.
“Kroger is incredibly excited to construct one of our industry-leading CFCs in Groveland, FL, through our relationship with Ocado,” said Alex Tosolini, Kroger’s senior vice president of new business development in a release. “Through our strategic partnership, we are leveraging advanced robotics technology and creative solutions to redefine the customer experience across America.”
This news comes as Ocado is continuing to recover from a February fire that gutted one of its CFCs in the UK and caused a serious revenue hit to the company. It was caused by a failure in an “ambient grid” storing food at room temperature, according to Bloomberg.
Kroger has been particularly active on the innovation and fulfillment front as it battles with the likes of Amazon, Walmart and Target in the e-grocery wars. Last August it announced a 5% investment in Ocado as part of the partnership, as well as a self-driving delivery pilot in Phoenix, AZ and the launch of same-day delivery.
And last October it launched Kroger Express, a pilot program featuring a 4,000-square-foot store-within-a-store at 13 Walgreens locations in Northern Kentucky. They offer a curated list of 2,300 items, determined on a store-by-store basis by analyzing customer data from Kroger’s 84.51º subsidiary.