When we talk about electrification and e-mobility, we’re usually talking about electric cars and electrified bicycles (e-bikes) — but there are many, many more areas of life where a little bit of motorized assistance could go a long way. Areas like— pfft, I dunno. Let’s say, “your local grocery store,” and then talk about how GM BrightDrop is partnering with the Kroger grocery chain to help electrify curbside pickup and warehouse operations.
GM’s BrightDrop commercial EV branch announced that it’s expanding its product portfolio with the launch of a new, temperature-controlled “eCart” powered by Bafang-sourced e-bike hardware to help streamline order fulfillment and pickup for online grocery orders. That’s a huge deal for GM, with the online grocery expected to exceed $240 billion (!?) by 2025.
“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,” said BrightDrop CEO, Travis Katz. “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.”
I had a chance to sample the non-grocery version of the BrightDrop Trace at the ACT Expo in Long Beach earlier this year. Designed for shipping companies like FedEx to help reduce injuries and generally improve working conditions, the Trace works exactly as advertised. I had lots of fun with my little robot mailbox buddy, and the pilot programs the company launched in Toronto and New York had just begun to report massive efficiency gains — drivers delivered 25% more packages, with FedEx reporting that they were able to reduce curb time, improve traffic flow, and actually remove a truck from one route (!).
In a similar pilot, BrightDrop and Kroger experienced a noticeable improvement in the customer and employee experiences. As a result, Kroger has decided to “pull the trigger” on a broader deal, with more stores coming online shortly and “full-scale” availability of the Trace Grocery (whatever that means) expected in 2024 with advanced customizable capabilities planned for the future release.
Source | Images: GM BrightDrop.
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