Kroger’s Latest Digital Meal Tools Include Ghost Kitchens & AI Twitter Bot

Lisa Johnston
Editor-in-Chief, CGT
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Kroger is getting more imaginative in its efforts to connect with consumers in their kitchens.

The grocer, which is experiencing record digital sales, teamed with tech startup ClusterTruck to develop on-premise kitchens at its Fishers, IN, and Dublin, OH, stores. The kitchens will provide a range of on-demand fresh-prep meals that carry no service or delivery fees.

The Fishers location is now open while the Dublin kitchen will open later this year.

ClusterTruck operates delivery-only restaurants with its proprietary software, which creates custom algorithms to optimize kitchen and delivery operations and eliminate the need for third-party delivery services. All orders can be delivered to the customer within 7 minutes of preparation, according to the company, and within less than 30 minutes of ordering, on average.  

The startup helped the No. 5 retailer develop the kitchens from insights derived from a December 2019 pilot in Indiana and Ohio. Each store will repurpose around 1,000 square feet for ClusterTruck staff to prepare meals for quick delivery and in-store pickup. Customers can order from a menu of more than 80 meals with foods quality said to rival sit-down restaurants.

The grocer has also launched Chefbot, a Twitter recipe tool that leverages artificial intelligence to help consumers create recipes using the ingredients in their kitchens.

Developed with media agency 360i and tech partners Coffee Labs and Clarifai, Chefbot analyzes photographs to recognize nearly 2,000 ingredients for 20,000 recipes. Upon tweeting a photo of three ingredients to @KrogerChefbot, the Chefbot identifies them and is designed to respond to the tweet within seconds with a list of personalized recommendations.

The tool, which will to improve with use, also pairs with Kroger’s e-commerce platform. It’s part of the grocer’s Fresh for Everyone brand campaign that emphasizes the company’s commitment to ensuring everyone has access to “fresh, affordable and delicious food.”

"Chefbot is one of the ways we're delivering on that brand promise by making it even easier for our customers to achieve their meal aspirations, especially as the majority of shoppers are eating meals prepared at home multiple times a day during the pandemic,” said Mandy Rassi, Kroger's VP of marketing.

Kroger is no stranger to artificial intelligence and recently announced an initiative to bring the tech to its stores to reduce check-out errors.

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