Kroger rolls out drone delivery trial

Retail giant Kroger has announced trial grocery deliveries by drones – a move that could revolutionize the way the 138-year-old company does business.

Drone diaper drops

Kroger is teaming up with Telegrid Technologies unit Drone Express in the test operation from a single store near the retailer’s Cincinnati birthplace. The trial run is slated to begin this week at the Centerville, Ohion, outlet. A second is planned for this summer in a California Ralphs store. Payloads of up to five pounds will be drone-delivered as fast as 15 minutes after orders are placed.

Given the kinds of groceries Kroger moves the most, bundles of popular goods – such as baby care products, first aid supplies, and s’mores ingredients – will be offered for single-click purchasing. The world’s second-largest retailer is also factoring flexibility into drone deliveries to cater to shoppers’ movements. 

Anywhere, anytime

Orders can be delivered to home addresses registered in the customer’s account, or wherever the client’s mobile phone is located. Consider the event-saving arrival of a drone to a picnic or cookout in a park where vital ingredients have run short or been forgotten altogether. 

Kroger group vice president of product experience, Jody Kalmbach, called the step momentous for the chain and shoppers alike.

Kroger’s new drone delivery pilot is part of the evolution of our rapidly growing and innovative e-commerce business – which includes pickup, delivery, and ship and reached more than $10 billion in sales in 2020. The pilot reinforces the importance of flexibility and immediacy to customers, powered by modern, cost-effective, and efficient last-mile solutions. We’re excited to test drone delivery and gain insights that will inform expansion plans as well as future customer solutions.

The move follows drone delivery trials by leading retailers. Those include number-one retailing group Walmart’s partnership with Zipline and Flytrex. Drug chain Wallgreens Boots Alliance has also started a trial hookup with Wing. For now, however, only UPS, Wing, and Amazon’s  Prime Air have earned official Federal Aviation Agency approval for regular drone delivery services.

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