Grocery retailer Albertsons announced today that it is piloting a new automated kiosk for grocery pickup. The kiosk is located at one of the company’s Jewel-Osco stores in Chicago.
The new kiosk, built by Cleveron, has regular and deep-freeze temperature zones, and gives curbside pickup customers a new contactless option when getting their groceries.
Jewel-Osco customers in the service area interested in using the new kiosk select “Kiosk PickUp” when shopping online, and are then give two-hour time slots to pick up their groceries. When customers arrive, they scan a code on their phone at the kiosk and their order is robotically moved to the front of the unit for pickup.
Last year, Alberstons expanded the use of automated micro-fulfillment centers, which use robotics in the back of house to pick and pack e-commerce orders. With today’s news, Albertsons is extending its automation efforts from the store room to the curb.
Albertsons’ moves, however, are part of a larger wave of automation running through the grocery industry right now. Last year was a record year for online grocery shopping, thanks to the pandemic closing restaurants and keeping people at home. In response, grocery chains have been adding systems to make online grocery shopping and order fulfillment easier. Kroger will open its automated fulfillment centers this year, FreshDirect built out an automated fulfillment facility in D.C. using Fabric’s technology, while Walmart started testing grocery delivery via autonomous vehicles.
Albertsons first automated kiosk in Chicago is already fulfilling orders and the company says it plans to install a second unit at a San Francisco Bay Area Safeway soon.