How Kroger Is Giving Its Curbside Pickup A Techy Upgrade

The COVID-19 pandemic changed the face of grocery shopping, with online grocery orders soaring to new heights and 20% of shoppers are opting for curbside pickup (via Forbes). Additionally, Forbes states that many customers who had never shopped online for groceries before the pandemic are now making it a regular part of their routines. The demand is there, and online grocery orders are here to stay. With the increased demand, grocery and retail stores are looking for innovative solutions that will allow for convenience and efficiency when fulfilling online orders.

Target enhanced its curbside pickup offerings by testing a program that allows shoppers to add a Starbucks order to be delivered to their car in the pickup lane. Likewise, Giant Food cut out fees and minimum order requirements to make same-day pickup more accessible to its shoppers. And the innovations keep rolling. In addition to updated policies and services, new technology is being implemented to improve curbside pickups for shoppers and store employees. One piece of equipment, in particular, has caught the eye of Kroger, the largest grocery store chain in America (via Statista).

More than a fridge on wheels

BrightDrop is an offshoot of General Motors (GM) focused on electrically-powered commercial delivery (via GM). The company is investing significantly in the future of grocery pickups with its temperature-controlled eCart, Trace Grocery (via GoBrightDrop). According to BrightDrop's company blog, Trace Grocery smooths out the online grocery process by eliminating the need for grocery workers to hold pickup orders in a different place in the store before customers come to retrieve their items. Instead, grocers can pull items directly from the shelves and place them in the carts before taking them out to the curb. This technology allows food to stay cold for up to four hours. This means potentially faster pickups for consumers and freed up time for the workers.

After a successful test in two Kentucky cities, Kroger will be Trace Grocery's first official customer, expanding the carts' availability to its stores later this year (via GoBrightDrop). A Trace Grocery cart currently has nine different compartments that allow items to be separated by order and storage temperature. Additionally, with future developments, customers will be able to unlock the cart's contents by QR code, eliminating the need for store employees to facilitate the pickup process (via Grocery Dive).

According to Fox Business, BrightDrop plans to expand Trace Grocery to other retailers by 2024.