Takeoff Technologies, which builds automated microfulfillment centers for grocery retailers, announced today that it has raised a $25 million Series C round of funding led by Forrestal Capital. This brings the total amount raised by the company to $86 million dollars.
Takeoff builds small robot-driven fulfillment centers, typically located in the back of grocery stores. The system uses a series of totes and rails to assemble online grocery orders for pickup or delivery in as little as a half hour. The company has announced partnerships with Albertsons, Ahold Delhaize, Wakefern and Sedano’s, and with today’s funding, Takeoff says it will scale out across North America, Europe and Australia.
The company also announced version 2.0 of its microfulfillment centers, which will be rolled out in 2020. According the press release, version 2.0 will have a “smaller and cleaner” design to allow for easier installation and six percent faster order packing. The v2.0 will also feature autonomous mobile robots that transport grocery totes.
Automated fulfillment centers are a big area of investment for grocery retailers this year as companies look to streamline order processing. Rather than having humans wandering the store aisles fulfilling orders for other humans, robots can do the job more quickly and accurately. As mentioned, Albertsons and Ahold Delhaize are working on in-store solutions through Takeoff, while Walmart is piloting its own in-store microfulfillment center with Alert Innovation. Kroger is taking a different approach and is building out 20 robot-driven smart warehouses over the next two years.
A recent study by Brick Meets Click showed that while online grocery shopping is only 6 percent of overall grocery sales, they have actually grown 15 percent year-over-year. Microfulfillment centers like the ones Takeoff builds provide the infrastructure to meet demand when online grocery eventually goes mainstream — which isn’t that far off.