Kroger’s New Drone Delivery Program Means You Can Order Snacks to Wherever You Are on the Beach

The grocery retailer’s Ohio pilot program is the latest in a growing number of companies testing drone delivery.

May 04, 2021

Photo by: Photo courtesy of Kroger

Photo courtesy of Kroger

Grocery delivery via drone will soon become commonplace. Kroger supermarkets announced today that it has partnered with Drone Express, a division of a New Jersey-based technology company, to make grocery delivery easier and more convenient than ever before.

The two companies have joined forces to create a pilot program that is slated to offer delivery via autonomous drones. The program is expected to begin this spring in the Midwest.

“Kroger’s new drone delivery pilot is part of the evolution of our rapidly growing and innovative e-commerce business – which includes pickup, delivery, and ship and reached more than $10 billion in sales in 2020,” Kroger's group vice president of product experience, Jody Kalmbach, said in a statement. “The pilot reinforces the importance of flexibility and immediacy to customers, powered by modern, cost-effective, and efficient last-mile solutions.”

And even though the pilot program is only expected to be available in Ohio in the coming weeks, Kalmbach intimated that it may be introduced in other parts of the country soon. “We’re excited to test drone delivery and gain insights that will inform expansion plans as well as future customer solutions,” she continued.

Trial flights will begin this week and will be managed by licensed Drone Express pilots from an on-site trailer with additional off-site monitoring. Customer deliveries are scheduled to begin later this spring, and a second pilot program is expected to launch this summer at a Ralphs location in California.

What’s especially useful about this program is that customers will be able to order items to be delivered not just to their homes, because the technology allows package delivery to the location of a customer’s smartphone not exclusive to a street address. In other words, in addition to delivering groceries to a home, customers can also request to have picnic supplies delivered to a park and sunscreen brought to a beach.

What’s more? Kroger has even created special product bundles customers can order, such as a baby care box with wipes and formula, a child wellness box with over-the-counter medications and fluids, and a s’mores kit with graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate. Using Kroger.com/DroneDelivery, customers can place orders and have them delivered within as little as 15 minutes.

“The launch of the pilot in Centerville is the culmination of months of meticulous research and development by Kroger and Drone Express to better serve and meet the needs of our customers,” Ethan Grob, Kroger’s director of last mile strategy and product, said in a statement. “We look forward to progressing from test flights to customer deliveries this spring, introducing one more way for our customers to experience Kroger.”

While Kroger is America’s largest grocery retailer to experiment with drone deliveries, it is not the first. Walmart launched grocery delivery via drone in North Carolina in September and Amazon has been testing its Prime Air fleet of drones, which was designed to make deliveries, in recent months.

Additionally, Rouses Markets in Louisiana previously announced plans to test a drone grocery delivery service at one of its stores in Alabama.

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