BrightDrop is expanding its business and product portfolio with the launch of a new temperature-controlled eCart – the “Trace Grocery” – that the company says 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.
BrightDrop says 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, BrightDrop says. 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, the company adds.
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 lbs. 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 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, BrightDrop says Kroger experienced an 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.
Full-scale availability of the Trace Grocery is expected in 2024 with advanced customizable capabilities planned for future release.