The Save Mart Companies on Tuesday launched an on-demand grocery delivery service to its customers at the Save Mart flagship store in Modesto, Calif., using autonomous robots from Starship Technologies.
The robots, each of which can carry up to 20 pounds of groceries — the equivalent of about three shopping bags — and can travel up to four miles roundtrip, provide a safe, low-cost and contactless delivery alternative for Save Mart shoppers, allowing them to order from thousands of items via the Starship app platform for on-demand delivery straight to their home.
“We continually seek new ways to serve our communities and offer solutions for efficient, safe and healthy grocery shopping,” said Robert Cady, senior director of marketing strategy and analytics for The Save Mart Companies. “Through our partnership with Starship Technologies, Save Mart is pleased once again to lead the way in customer service and innovation.”
The new service kicks off at the Modesto flagship store, which opened one year ago in October, and serves as an innovation lab for The Save Mart Cos., which operates 206 stores under various banners throughout California and northern Nevada. In addition to 83 Save Mart stores, the company operates Lucky, Lucky California, FoodMaxx and Maxx Value Foods stores.
Based in San Francisco, Starship Technologies recently passed the 500,000 autonomous deliveries milestone. Save Mart is the first grocery retailer in the United States to partner with Starship Technologies.
“With the onset of the pandemic, our service became increasingly important to thousands of residents in communities across the U.S.,” said Ryan Tuohy, SVP business development at Starship Technologies. “Save Mart is a loved brand that has deep ties to its local communities, which is why we’re especially excited about this partnership. Working together with The Save Mart Companies, we are able to provide a safe, convenient and well-priced delivery option for tens of thousands of residents.”
Starship Technologies’ robots move at pedestrian speed and use a combination of sophisticated machine learning, artificial intelligence and sensors to travel on sidewalks and navigate around obstacles. The computer vision-based navigation helps the robots to map their environment to the nearest inch, according to the company. The robots can cross streets, climb curbs, travel at night and operate in both rain and snow. A team of humans can also monitor their progress remotely and can take control at a moment’s notice.
As demand for grocery delivery has risen over the last several years — and surged in 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic — retailers are increasingly turning to robots and artificial intelligence to expedite delivery and better serve customers. Since 2019, for instance, Amazon has been field testing its compact, self-driving delivery vehicle dubbed Amazon Scout, while Walmart has been testing a number of autonomous delivery projects including a pilot with Nuro self-driving vehicles. Amazon and Walmart have also both been actively exploring autonomous drone delivery this year.