General Motor’s commercial electric vehicle brand BrightDrop is veering into the world of groceries and Kroger is the first to get on board.
BrightDrop, a wholly-owned subsidiary of General Motors, announced Monday the launch of the Trace Grocery, a new temperature-controlled eCart. Designed to transport grocery orders for curbside pickup, Cincinnati-based Kroger is slated to be the first customer to introduce the eCart into its e-commerce operations beginning this year, BrightDrop said in a statement.
BrightDrop and Kroger completed an initial pilot program in Lexington and Versailles, Kentucky, and reported positive results.
“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 President and CEO Travis Katz in a statement. “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.”
With today’s online order fulfillment process involving many steps, Trace Grocery is looking to streamline the process by allowing employees to put orders directly into the unit before stationing it curbside for customer retrieval, BrightDrop said.
Designed for last-mile fulfillment, the Trace Grocery features and benefits include:
- Temperature management to store items at food-safe temperatures for up to four hours
- Propulsion-assistance to move up to 350 pounds of groceries, helping reduce physical strain on the labor force
- Auto-braking to stop the electric motor that matches an operator’s walking speed up to 3 mph
- Nine compartments to segment items by order, temperature and product type for optimized pickups
- Flexibility to easily maneuver inside and outside of a grocer’s store to help reduce costly staging and infrastructure requirements
- Weatherproofing to handle variable temperatures and outdoor elements