Add Kroger to the list of retailers piloting drone deliveries (all puns intended).
The grocer has partnered with Drone Express to experiment with drone deliveries in the Midwest this spring, joining such retailers as Walmart, CVS and Amazon in testing them for consumer fulfillment. Customers will be able to have items delivered to the location of their smartphone, which Kroger was quick to point out does not mean it must be a residential address, citing beaches and parks as other potential locations.
Drone Express, which is a division of TELEGRID Technologies, will start test flights this week near the Kroger Marketplace in Centerville, OH. Flights will be managed by pilots who are licensed by Drone Express and certified under FAA approval, and conducted from an on-site trailer with additional monitoring.
Customer deliveries are scheduled to begin later this spring, while a second pilot is scheduled a Ralphs store in California this summer.
The retailer will offer product bundles, such as baby care and s’mores packages, that can be delivered as quickly as 15 minutes of placing an order on the Kroger website.
Jody Kalmbach, Kroger group VP of product experience, said the pilot is part of its evolution of its growing e-commerce business and “reinforces the importance of flexibility and immediacy to customers, powered by modern, cost-effective, and efficient last-mile solutions. We're excited to test drone delivery and gain insights that will inform expansion plans as well as future customer solutions."
Ethan Grob, Kroger's director of last mile strategy and product, said the company will look to progress from test flights to customer deliveries this spring.