Kroger Co. and its ecommerce partner, Ocado, have opened a new “spoke” delivery facility in the Miami area, serving a 150-mile stretch along the Southeast coast of Florida.
The 60,000-square-foot facility will work in conjunction with Kroger’s 375,000-square-foot Groveland, Fla., customer fulfillment center, which the company opened in partnership with Ocado in 2021 in the central part of the state.
The new facility extends Kroger’s reach into one of the most populous and fastest-growing areas of Florida, where Kroger does not operate retail locations.
All orders will be picked at the Groveland fulfillment center and delivered via climate-controlled vehicles to Miami, where they are checked and placed on refrigerated trucks that deliver directly to customers’ homes. The new facility will result in the addition of 90 workers, Kroger said.
Kroger, which launched its partnership with U.K.-based Ocado Group in 2018, also has opened fulfillment centers with Ocado in Monroe, Ohio; Forest Park, Ga.; Pleasant Prairie, Wis.; Dallas; Romulus, Mich., and Aurora, Colo. Each of these hub facilities also has smaller spoke facilities like the new Miami DC that can expand the reach of the hubs to fulfill the last mile of delivery.
Additional customer fulfillment centers are planned for California; Frederick, Md.; Phoenix; Cleveland; Charlotte, and the Northeast.
Ocado, which has a significant ecommerce presence in Europe, is working with Kroger to create a delivery network that combines artificial intelligence, advanced robotics and automation. At the hub sites, more than 1,000 bots move around giant grids, orchestrated by proprietary control systems. The grid, known as The Hive, contains totes filled with products and ready-to-deliver customer orders. As customers’ orders near delivery times, bots retrieve products from The Hive and bring them to pick stations for items to be sorted for delivery.
Kroger’s customized refrigerated delivery van can store up to 20 orders and are routed via machine learning algorithms that optimize delivery routes, considering factors such as road conditions and fuel efficiency. Vans travel up to 90 minutes with orders from the hub and spoke facilities to make deliveries.
“We are thrilled to connect more Floridians to the Kroger delivery shopping experience," said Bill Bennett, VP and head of e-commerce at Kroger, in a statement.
The region offers significant growth potential, said James Kohnstamm, executive VP of the Miami-Dade Beacon Council, in a statement.
“We have over a million households and hundreds of new residents relocating to Miami each week,” he said, adding that the region also offers a workforce with expertise in logistics.