Expanding its click-and-collect options, Albertsons Cos. is piloting an automated, temperature-controlled pickup kiosk outside a Jewel-Osco supermarket in Chicago.
Albertsons said Thursday that it’s the first U.S. grocer to test the contactless PickUp Kiosk, developed by Estonia-based Cleveron. The Jewel-Osco unit is now fulfilling orders, and Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons soon plans to install a second kiosk at a San Francisco Bay Area Safeway.
“We are supercharging our digital and omnichannel offerings to serve customers however they want, whenever they want,” Chris Rupp, executive vice president and chief customer and digital officer at Albertsons Cos., said in a statement. “This innovative and contactless PickUp kiosk makes it even easier for customers to shop with us in a way that is convenient for them.”
To use the kiosk, Jewel-Osco online grocery customers choose the “Kiosk PickUp” option at checkout and selected a two-hour time slot to pick up their order. Upon arriving at the kiosk, they scan a code on their smartphone, and their groceries are robotically delivered to a clear door at the front of the unit for retrieval. The station features two temperature zones — regular and a deep freeze — and customer orders, made via the retailer’s e-grocery website or mobile app, can be stored in two different zones and still be delivered in the same console for pickup.
Cleveron, which specializes in robotics-based parcel terminals and last-mile pickup solutions, worked with Niantic, Conn.-based integrator Telaid to install the kiosk at the Jewel-Osco store. Other food/drug/mass retailers using Cleveron’s technology include Walmart, Asda and Canadian Tire.
“Cleveron’s pickup solutions are created to save time and offer convenience for everyone. The customers can drive up to the PickUp Kiosk, scan the code, grab their groceries and go. It is as quick and easy as that,” according to Arno Kütt, CEO of Cleveron. “We are honored that Albertsons Cos. has selected our technology in their drive to offer the best experience for their customers.”
The Cleveron kiosk marks the second self-service grocery pickup solution being tested by Albertsons in recent months. In October, the grocer unveiled a pilot of modular, temperature-controlled pickup lockers from Bell and Howell at selected Jewel-Osco and Safeway stores. Branded as PickUp, the lockers can be placed indoors or outdoors.
Pickup is a linchpin of Albertsons’ online grocery expansion. The retailer now has around 1,400 curbside pickup sites overall across its base of nearly 2,300 stores in 34 states and the District of Columbia, and it aims to have at least 1,800 click-and-collection locations by the end of fiscal 2021. Digital sales, including home delivery, jumped 243% in Albertsons fiscal 2020 second quarter ended in September, following a 276% gain in the first quarter.