BrightDrop, the technology start-up decarbonising last-mile deliveries for the logistics industry that’s owned by General Motors (GM), has announced the launch of a new temperature-controlled eCart. The eCart, named Trace Grocery, is designed to streamline order fulfilment and pickup for online grocery purchases.
Online grocery is a rapidly expanding market that’s expected to reach $240 billion by 2025, so electrification is critical. Kroger, America’s largest grocer, is slated to be the first customer to introduce the BrightDrop Trace Grocery into its e-commerce operations. This will take place later this year.
Travis Katz, BrightDrop President and CEO, said: “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.
“With the Trace Grocery, we saw an opportunity to help companies like Kroger tackle these challenges head on. As online shopping continues to grow, BrightDrop is committed to developing innovative solutions to help our customers keep pace. The Trace Grocery is a perfect example of this.”
BrightDrop gained valuable learnings through a series of rapid prototype builds, market research and customer pilot programs over the past year. These insights led to the development, testing, refinement and now commercialisation of the Trace Grocery. This is BrightDrop’s first product purpose-built for online grocery and retail order fulfilment.
About BrightDrop Trace Grocery
Focused on speeding up online grocery order fulfilment and pickup, the Trace Grocery is designed to provide retailers efficiency and cost-saving benefits their businesses need. Plus, it offers the shopper the convenience and flexibility they expect from online grocery services.
Today’s online order fulfilment process involves many steps within the store to identify, collect and store products before putting them in the hands of customers. Trace Grocery helps streamline that process for grocers by allowing employees to put orders directly into the unit before stationing it curb-side for customer retrieval.
With access given after digital verification, Trace Grocery is compatible with most grocers’ existing online fulfilment apps. This enables flexibility for customers when retrieving their purchases.
The unit’s ability to easily move inside and outside of a store, while providing access to customers without an employee present, allows grocers to explore new ways to get products closer to shoppers’ doorsteps.
Built on the BrightDrop Trace Platform originally designed for last-mile fulfilment, the Trace Grocery features and benefits include:
- Temperature management to store items at food-safe temperatures for up to four hours.
- Propulsion assistance to move up to 350 pounds of groceries, helping reduce physical strain on the labor force.
- Auto-braking to stop the electric motor that matches an operator’s walking speed up to 3mph.
- Nine compartments to segment items by order, temperature and product type for optimised pickups
- Flexibility to easily manoeuvre inside and outside of a grocer’s store to help reduce costly staging and infrastructure requirements
- Weatherproofing to handle variable temperatures and outdoor elements with ease
BrightDrop and Kroger completed an initial pilot program in Lexington and Versailles, Kentucky. During this pilot, Kroger experienced a noticeable improvement in the customer and associate experience. As a result, Kroger is now slated to be the first customer of the Trace Grocery with the first stores receiving units later this year.
The Trace Grocery is the latest product in BrightDrop’s portfolio of all-electric hardware and software solutions. After the record-setting commercialisation of its first product to market, BrightDrop has already secured more than 25,000 electric vehicle (EV) production reservations.
The company, based in Canada, also has letters of intent while delivering over 100 EVs to its US launch customer. This marks one of the nation’s largest deployments of commercial electric delivery vans to date.
The BrightDrop Trace Platform, including Trace Grocery, is available today. Full-scale availability of the Trace Grocery is expected in 2024 with advanced customisable capabilities planned for future release.
Earlier this year BrightDrop announced it was acquiring fleet optimisation software from Marain Inc., a California-based technology startup. The company plans to integrate Marain’s artificial intelligence-powered fleet optimisation software into BrightDrop’s ecosystem of last-mile solutions.
This will be used to analyse, forecast and identify multi-modal solutions for fleet customers as they plan their journey to full-fleet electrification.