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Kroger: Enhancing the customer experience

Restock Kroger called for $9 billion in capital investments to refresh and reconfigure store environments, and from 2017 to 2019 the company renovated close to 20 percent of its locations.

Kroger Co., BB #:100073 Cincinnati, OH, has also expanded its online delivery and pickup services with 1,915 pickup and 2,326 delivery locations as of the end of 2019, covering 96 percent of households in its markets.

Some of its other recent steps on the customer experience front have included debuting Kroger Pickup service in 35 Walgreens locations around Knoxville, TN, as well as selling Walgreens-branded health and beauty items in 17 Kroger stores.

There’s also a pilot with Nuro, a robotics firm based in Mountain View, CA, for autonomous same-day delivery orders placed through Kroger or the Nuro app, starting with two stores in the Houston area. Kroger Rush also debuted in two Cincinnati-area stores in 2019 as a 30-minute delivery service for essentials such as heat-and-eat meals.

A package pickup and delivery service, aptly named Kroger Package Services, is also being tested in partnership with FedEx, UPS, and the U.S. Postal Service, in 220 of Kroger’s stores across the country.

As Kroger continues its transition to an omnichannel retailer, one of its higher-profile moves has been its partnership with Ocado, the United Kingdom-based online grocer.

The two companies announced the first of 20 planned automated customer fulfillment centers with one each in Wisconsin, Georgia, Texas, Maryland, and Florida, and two in Ohio. The new facilities, which will include state-of-the-art robotics and digital technology, with a price tag of $50 million each, are expected to become operational beginning in 2021.

Kroger also jumped in another, related direction—joining the grocerant trend in 2019. The grocer opened its first food hall, called On the Rhine Eatery, located in a new 52,000-square-foot, two-level store in Cincinnati. The hall includes a number of Cincinnati-area food concepts, as well as its own Kitchen 1883 Café and Bar.

This is a multi-part feature adapted from the cover story of the March/April 2020 issue of Produce Blueprints.