Kroger Co., the country’s largest traditional grocery store chain and No. 86 in the Internet Retailer 2018 Top 1000, says it will expand home delivery of groceries ordered online via Instacart, an app-based home grocery delivery service, to 75 additional markets by late October.
The expansion will boost the national footprint of Kroger’s delivery via Instacart by 50%, Kroger says. The initiative makes the service available from more than 1,600 of Kroger’s 2,800 stores, starting today with stores in the Atlanta, Nashville and Memphis areas.
The move builds upon Kroger’s existing partnership with Instacart, announced last fall and expanded in March. Kroger’s growing relationship with Instacart is one example of Kroger’s increasing commitment to e-commerce, which is part of a larger strategic plan announced last year.
Among other things, the plan, called Restock Kroger, aims to expand Kroger’s digital and e-commerce efforts and make broader use of personalized customer data. As the plan unfolds, Kroger has been actively investing in technology and omnichannel capabilities.
More pickup points
In addition to expanding the availability of home delivery, Kroger also has been aggressively adding pickup points for orders purchased online. As of March, Kroger had almost 1,100 pickup points, up from 640 a year earlier and 221 in March 2016, according to company reports.
Kroger has been launching initiatives related to the Restock Kroger plan at a quick pace.
Earlier this week, Kroger said it signed an agreement with the University of Cincinnati to operate an “innovation lab” there. The lab will be housed at the school’s 1819 Innovation Hub—a facility created to help companies solve problems and connect with students and faculty doing research in their industries. Kroger says it will staff the 1819 Innovation Hub with R&D engineers and software developers, alongside university faculty. The partnership will feature a student co-operative education and internship program.
Earlier this month, Kroger launched a new e-commerce website that sells non-perishable grocery items directly to consumers. The service is initially available in four markets—Cincinnati, Houston, Louisville and Nashville—and the grocer expects to roll it out to more markets over the next few months.
Kroger last month announced plans to work with autonomous vehicle startup Nuro to test grocery delivery via an unmanned road vehicle that will steer itself from the grocery store to customers’ homes. (Meanwhile, rival Walmart Inc., No. 4 in the Top 1000 and the largest grocery seller in the United states, plans to test using autonomous vehicles to bring customers to their stores.)
Kroger in May bought a stake in U.K. online grocer Ocado Group PLC, No. 24 in the Internet Retailer Europe 500, and is licensing Ocado’s automated warehouses and delivery technology. Also in May, Kroger paid $200 million to acquire Home Chef, a meal-kit retailer that claims to have grown its revenue to $250 million last year, while also posting two profitable quarters.