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Industry Innovation

Retailers Turning to Autonomous Delivery of Groceries

Numerous Retailers Becoming Heavily Vested in Autonomous Grocery Delivery

autonomous vehicle delivering groceries

rocery stores are extending their grocery sales to include autonomous retail delivery.  A new on-ground robot delivery service has already been approved in Washington DC.  Other grocery stores are also likely to follow suit by taking robot delivery service initiatives.

The Dynamics of Autonomous Retail Delivery

Grocery stores facilitate pilot delivery services through robots or human workers who directly deliver your groceries to your doorstep.  To use an autonomous retail delivery service offered by a grocery store, all you need to do is place your order through a mobile app or on the grocery store's website.

Using autonomous retail delivery, you can track your grocery delivery every step of the way to you.  Autonomous grocery store technology also gives you a time at which you will be receiving your delivery.  When your delivery arrives, you get a notification on your smartphone prompting you to pick up your order.

Once you have received your order, the autonomous vehicle continues its journey to deliver its next order.  Once you’ve received your order, you automatically get a receipt of your account being charged on your mobile phone. The transaction is both cashless and cashier-less.

Pilot Delivery Programs in Place Today

Amazon was not slow to notice autonomous retail delivery trends.  Amazon has launched a pilot delivery program using electric vehicles.  However, the facility is only available in the Seattle Metropolitan Area.  The electronic delivery or Amazon Scout Vehicles are no bigger than your regular water coolers and have speeds that are comparable to a walk in the park.

autonomous vehicle

"We are happy to welcome Amazon Scout to our growing suite of innovative delivery solutions for customers and look forward to taking the [lessons] learned from this first neighborhood.  So, Amazon Scout can, over time, provide even more sustainability and convenience to customer deliveries," said Sean Scott, vice president of Amazon Scout.

These 'Scout units' can easily and safely make their way through pedestrians, pets, and anything else in their path.  Today, they are being assisted by human workers, but this will change as technology evolves in the future. Human workers have to load these Scouts with the items and then later watch over them as they move.

Boston will also be introduced to autonomous retail delivery as Shop & Stop has launched autonomous delivery of grocery items through partnership with Robomart to give a head start to its autonomous delivery services.  "We are extremely excited to bring our vision to life with Stop & Shop, one of the most pioneering and forward-thinking grocery chains in the world."  Rejoiced Ali Ahmed, the Co-founder, and CEO of Robomart.

Robomart is itself a pilot program.  It will act as an autonomous delivery service which will be purchased or subscribed to by retailers.  Robomart believes in customer convenience, which is why it introduced the world's first store-hailing service, making it easier than ever for its consumers to shop.  Robomart is the first store that comes to you.

Robomart believes in self-driving technology and plans to create the world's first self-driving store, a driverless concept.

West Hollywood residents may use store-hailing services by simply 'hailing' the mobile grocery store using the Robomart app, and it will come within 10 minutes. After swiping in the app to open the Robomart door, you may handpick your products directly from the Robomart. After that, you may just select your products; there is no need to scan them or your card. Robomart keeps track of the goods you have chosen, and you will receive a receipt whenever your card is charged.

To survive, grocery stores may want to consider having autonomous delivery to their agendas, but it will not be necessary.  However, in the future, if we see a significant rise in automated delivery, then grocery stores must invest in automated delivery technology if they do not wish to fall behind in the race

Starship Technologies has also broken the news about its six-wheeled autonomous robots that will be delivering grocery and restaurant take outs to your doorstep. This autonomous retailer delivery technology so far has only been approved in Washington DC as it is the only city that has allowed these robots to roam free without a permit fee.  These robots can carry up to 40 pounds of weight, reach a maximum speed of 4 miles per hour, and go no further than 2 miles from where they have come from.

Problems with Autonomous delivery

In 2018, a pedestrian was killed by an Uber driverless car in the U.S.  It gives one pause to wonder if the sensors of robot vehicles can detect pedestrians under all conditions.  This demonstrates that such robot technology is still maturing, and certain aspects of this technology have some development left.  

Additionally, customers today are not yet sold on autonomous delivery and, not surprisingly, some want to simply stick with traditional visits to the grocery store.  Robots are a high technology affair and high maintenance on the grocery store's part.  This can be very costly for them.  Moreover, most robot delivery systems are unable to navigate beyond short distances.

"Customer Packaged Goods (CPGs) … to adjust packaging, pack sizes, and assortment for different delivery vehicles.  Not only that but delivering in tough weather could be an issue, too,” says a report from Consumergoods.com.

Autonomous delivery in 5 years

Despite the natural resistance to change, customers are getting more and more impatient when it comes to food or grocery delivery.  Fast food and grocery delivery options provide sound solutions to these expectations of the customers.  According to research, the estimated value of restaurant delivery by 2022 will be $62 billion.  It was $25 billion in 2019.  For retail, restaurant & food chains, and e-commerce companies, autonomous delivery is one of the most important emerging technologies today.

90% of customers are unwilling to wait more than 10 minutes when it comes to online deliveries.  This increases the appeal of autonomous retail deliveries as they have the potential to be “swift” in their operations.  By 2023, 23% of US citizens will entirely rely upon delivery apps for their grocery and food.  This means that in the future, online autonomous delivery will be a 'hot' technology area.  

To survive, grocery stores may want to consider having autonomous delivery to their service inventories, but it will not be necessary.  However, in the future, if we see a significant rise in automated delivery, then grocery stores ultimately need to invest in automated delivery technology if they do not wish to fall behind competitively.  “I think what it really boils down to is whether or not these new delivery mechanisms can make online grocery or online product delivery better, faster, cheaper, more reliable,” says Ethan Goodman.  “If it’s drones, great.  Self-driving cars, great.  Bots, great.  But if it happens to be the same guy delivering their groceries today, and the retailers and these third parties figure out how to do that really cheaply, then that is what is going to matter.”

September 19, 2021