Employees of the Kroger supermarket chain will fill customers’ online grocery orders by loading them into the Trace Grocery, an electronic cart developed by General Motors’ BrightDrop subsidiary.
The temperature-controlled Trace Grocery was tested successfully at Kroger stores in Lexington and Versailles, KY. The nation’s largest supermarket chain will be the first grocer to deploy the electronic cart this year, with full availability expected in 2024.
“COVID has driven a dramatic increase in online grocery shopping, and fulfilling these orders profitably has become a major challenge for retailers of all sizes,” BrightDrop President and CEO Travis Katz says in a news release. “With the Trace Grocery, we saw an opportunity to help companies like Kroger tackle these challenges head-on.”
The Trace Grocery is designed to streamline standard online order-fulfillment processes which involve many steps within the store to identify, collect and store products before turning them over to customers. Employees put grocery items directly into the unit before it is stationed at curbside for removal by the customer, who has digitally verified the order.
Features and benefits of the Trace Grocery include:
- Temperature management to store items at food-safe temperatures for up to four hours.
- Propulsion assistance to move up to 350 lbs. (159 kg) of groceries, helping reduce physical strain on employees.
- Auto-braking to stop the electric motor designed to match an operator’s walking speed up to 3 mph (5 km/h).
- Nine compartments to separate items by order, temperature and product type for efficient pickups.
- Flexibility to easily maneuver inside and outside the store without an employee present, helping reduce costly staging and infrastructure requirements.
- Weatherproofing to handle variable temperatures and outdoor conditions.
Trace Grocery is BrightDrop’s first product purpose-built for online grocery and retail order fulfillment. It is compatible with most grocers' existing online fulfillment apps, GM says.
The Trace Grocery is the latest product in BrightDrop’s portfolio of all-electric hardware and software technologies. BrightDrop has secured more than 25,000 EV production reservations and letters of intent while delivering more than 100 battery-electric delivery vans to its U.S. launch customer, Federal Express.