On June 9, Kroger formally began encouraging grocery buyers to check out its virtual arrival in Florida, bringing what it described as a “differentiated, flexible, and personalized delivery-only option” to the Sunshine State for the first time.
The launch—which is already live in Orlando and Tampa, with a spoke location in Jacksonville set to begin later this month—marks the public debut of the company’s multimillion-dollar distribution warehouse in Groveland, Fla., which was created in collaboration with British technology firm Ocado. Kroger Delivery, which will be powered by Ocado’s sophisticated robotics and software, will prioritize fresh food and customer service in a way that existing competitors in the state cannot.
“With our innovative offering that delivers high-quality fresh goods straight to our customers’ doorsteps, Kroger is well positioned to redefine grocery e-commerce in Florida.” In a statement, Bill Bennett, Kroger’s VP of e-commerce, stated, “The service provides fresh food, adult beverage, and personal care products, accessible rates and promotions, and a best-in-class fuel rewards loyalty program.” “Our expertly educated and cheerful Kroger Delivery colleagues deliver this unique, customer-centric offering, providing our customers with anything, anytime, anyplace and expanding our reach and products to new locations.”
Kroger has been working on a “soft opening” for weeks, including its sponsorship of a Tampa Pride parade last month, as previously reported. The retailer’s capacity to expand into new markets and the strength of its lauded loyalty programs will be put to the test with its entry in Florida: Kroger currently has no physical stores in Florida, with the exception of a single Harris Teeter store at Fernandina Beach in the state’s northeastern corner. It last had stores there in the 1980s, under names such as Florida Choice, which it has since sold.
Kroger Delivery made its debut in Greater Cincinnati earlier this spring, increasing the company’s dominating physical-store market share.
The Ocado facility in Groveland, which is 375,000 square feet, has the capacity to handle the volume of at least a few dozen stores. Kroger will deliver the service through a delivery experience that it claims will set it apart in a state where competitors such as Publix, Aldi, Winn-Dixie, and Walmart rely on crowdsourced delivery from stores—a service that promises faster fulfillment but is vulnerable to stale store inventories, inefficient picking, and inconsistent service.
Kroger is relying on Ocado’s technology to enable more accurate fulfillment rates, cheaper pick costs, improved delivery routing and other logistics efficiencies. Delivery will be made by dedicated drivers in branded, temperature-controlled delivery vehicles, and there will be no tipping required. Kroger is also bringing its advanced loyalty program to Florida shoppers, including Shell gasoline rewards, digital coupons, and targeted offers.
Kroger Delivery claimed it would charge variable delivery rates based on a variety of parameters such as a customer’s loyalty, popularity of delivery windows, route optimization, and order lead time. This will allow Kroger to offer extra discounted options when it has the ability to do so, resulting in a more tailored offering and giving value to customers “in ways that matter,” according to the business.
“We are thrilled that Kroger chose Tampa Bay and Hillsborough County to expand the company’s e-commerce reach in Florida,” stated Pat Kemp, chairman of the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners. “As they build and thrive here, Kroger will be an important part of our community.” We look forward to partnering with them and providing them with the resources and assistance they need to grow a great team and run a successful business.”
The mayor of Jacksonville, Lenny Curry, stated, “Every person in Jacksonville should have access to affordable, wholesome, and fresh foods.” “We are pleased to welcome Kroger to our community and are optimistic that this delivery service will serve a critical need for folks who do not have easy access to goods.” Read more at greatpeople me.