BrightDrop is expanding its business and product portfolio with the launch of a new temperature-controlled eCart that helps streamline order fulfillment and pickup for online grocery purchases. Online grocery is a rapidly expanding market that’s expected to reach $240 billion by 2025.
Kroger, America’s largest grocer, is slated to be the first customer to introduce the BrightDrop Trace Grocery into its e-commerce operations, beginning this year.
“COVID has driven a dramatic increase in online grocery shopping, and fulfilling these orders profitably has become a major challenge for retailers of all sizes. With the Trace Grocery, we saw an opportunity to help companies like Kroger tackle these challenges head on,” said BrightDrop President and CEO Travis Katz. “As online shopping continues to grow, BrightDrop is committed to developing innovative solutions to help our customers keep pace. The Trace Grocery is a perfect example of this.”
BrightDrop gained valuable learnings through a series of rapid prototype builds, market research and customer pilot programs over the past year. These insights led to the development, testing, refinement and now commercialization of the Trace Grocery, BrightDrop’s first product purpose-built for online grocery and retail order fulfillment.
Focused on speeding up online grocery order fulfillment and pickup, the Trace Grocery is designed to provide retailers the efficiency and cost-savings benefits their businesses need, and the shopper the convenience and flexibility they expect from online grocery services.
Today’s online order fulfillment process involves many steps within the store to identify, collect and store products before putting them in the hands of customers. Trace Grocery helps streamline that process for grocers by allowing employees to put orders directly into the unit before stationing it curbside for customer retrieval. With access given after digital verification, Trace Grocery is compatible with most grocers’ existing online fulfillment apps, enabling flexibility for customers when retrieving their purchases. The unit’s ability to easily move inside and outside of a store, while providing access to customers without an employee present, allows grocers to explore new ways to get products closer to shoppers’ doorsteps.
Built on the BrightDrop Trace Platform originally designed for last-mile fulfillment, the Trace Grocery features and benefits include:
– Temperature management to store items at food-safe temperatures for up to four hours
– Propulsion-assistance to move up to 350 pounds of groceries, helping reduce physical strain on the labor force
– Auto-braking to stop the electric motor that matches an operator’s walking speed up to 3 mph
– Nine compartments to segment items by order, temperature and product type for optimized pickups
– Flexibility to easily maneuver inside and outside of a grocer’s store to help reduce costly staging and infrastructure requirements
– Weatherproofing to handle variable temperatures and outdoor elements with ease
BrightDrop and Kroger completed an initial pilot program in Lexington and Versailles, Kentucky. During this pilot, Kroger experienced a noticeable improvement in the customer and associate experience. As a result, Kroger is now slated to be the first customer of the Trace Grocery with the first stores receiving units later this year.
The Trace Grocery is the latest product in BrightDrop’s portfolio of all-electric hardware and software solutions. After a record-setting commercialization of its first product to market, BrightDrop has already secured more than 25,000 EV production reservations and letters of intent while delivering over 100 EVs to its U.S. launch customer, marking one of the nation’s largest deployments of commercial electric delivery vans to date. The BrightDrop Trace Platform, including Trace Grocery, is available today. Full-scale availability of the Trace Grocery is expected in 2024 with advanced customizable capabilities planned for future release.