America’s Largest Grocery Chain Is Testing An Innovative Self-Service Feature

Why should fast food chains have all the fun when it comes to cutting edge technological innovations? While Flippy, Chippy, and Sippy will be cooking your burgers and pouring your drinks, among other things, there’s now a new piece of technology that will streamline your grocery shopping experience. In particular, your online grocery shopping at America’s largest grocery chain.

On September 19, BrightDrop, a subsidiary of General Motors, announced that Kroger is the first retailer to roll out the company’s new electric, temperature-controlled eCarts for curbside pickup orders.

RELATED: This Is America’s #1 Grocery Chain Amid Inflation, New Study Shows

According to BrightDrop, the eCarts — called Trace Grocery — are designed to help “streamline order fulfillment and online grocery pickup.” The new technology will allow store associates to place orders directly into the carts and park them outside for customers, who can then open the drawers with a digital verification code. Pretty adorable, right?

The eCarts, which will roll out at Kroger stores later this year, include nine compartments that separate groceries by order, temperature and product type. Other features include temperature management technology that allows food to be stored for up to four hours, drive assist that helps workers move up to 350 pounds of groceries with less physical strain, and automatic braking to stop add the electric motor, which matches the operator’s walking. speed up to three miles per hour.

BrightDrop Trace Grocery eCart

“There has been a significant increase in online grocery shopping driven by COVID, and fulfilling these orders profitably is a major challenge for retailers of all sizes. With Trace Grocery, we saw an opportunity to help companies like Kroger meet the challenges exactly this,” Travis Katz, president and CEO of BrightDrop, said in a statement. “As online shopping continues to expand, BrightDrop is committed to developing innovative solutions to help our customers keep up with the pace. Trace Grocery is a great example.”

The Trace Grocery eCarts were first piloted at Kroger stores in Lexington and Versailles, Ky., where the customer experience and association with the grocery chain significantly improved. By 2024, BrightDrop expects ffull-scale availability of the technology, and advanced adaptive capabilities planned for the future.

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The eCarts aren’t the only new piece of technology Kroger has unveiled in stores. Last month, the grocery giant revealed it will be expanding its zoned self-checkout lanes to 20 Cincinnati-area stores this fall.

Unlike the old smaller self-checkout lanes, which will still be available in stores, the new lanes will consist of full rolling belts just like the ones used by cashiers. In addition, a bagger will be present to pack the customers’ groceries.

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