Grocery giant Kroger announced today that it will be building out its next Ocado-powered robotic fulfillment center in Romulus, MI.
Kroger is an investor in Ocado and uses the U.K.-based company’s technology to create automated fulfillment centers. These centers use a system of totes, rails and robots to assemble and expedite online grocery orders from a central location that are then sent out for delivery. Kroger is in the process of building out 20 of these facilities across the U.S.
In June, Kroger announced that the Great Lakes, Pacific Northwest and West would each get their own fulfillment center. The Romulus facility will service the Great Lakes region. Other locations announced include Frederick, MD, Monroe, OH, and Dallas, TX, among others.
Kroger’s ongoing automated march across the U.S. comes at a time when the pandemic and spurred record amounts of online grocery shopping. Though recent data suggest that the initial surge in online grocery shopping tapered off later in the summer, online grocery shopping sales are projected to hit $250 billion by 2025.
The first of Kroger’s automated warehouses aren’t scheduled to become operational until early 2021. That will give Kroger plenty of time to properly ramp up its own delivery operations amidst growing grocery e-commerce, but it also gives Kroger’s competition time to gain more marketshare. Amazon is expanding its grocery ambitions and offers Prime members free same-day delivery. Walmart just launched its own subscription service that offers free same-day grocery delivery as well. Even more regional players like H-E-B in Texas are getting into the automated grocery fulfillment game.
Kroger’s Romulus facility will be 135,000-square-foot, will create 250 new jobs and open up 18 months after the site breaks ground.