Jewel-Osco, a subsidiary of the Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons Cos., has launched its first microfulfillment center (MFC)—a 20,000-square-foot facility in its Westmont, Ill. store, which pairs a brick-and-mortar store with home delivery through artificial intelligence. The center uses an automated rack-and-tote system that prepares orders for delivery through a partnership with Waltham, Mass.-based grocery technology company Takeoff Technologies.
More than 6,000 totes of product are shuttled from their allotted space inside Takeoff and elevators move the totes to a decanting area where the groceries are then sorted. Product from the adjacent Jewel-Osco is also coupled with MFC items to complete the order.
The product heads to picking stations where Jewel-Osco Associates or “pickers” will fill up to four orders at once, expediting the order fulfillment process, explains the company. Robots move the completed orders to a separate area for associates to grab and deliver to Drive Up & Go (DUG) customers, or third-party delivery services including Door Dash, Shipt and Point Pick Up.
“As part of our broader strategic partnership with Albertsons, we are honored to have worked with Jewel-Osco to introduce the first-ever microfulfillment center to the Chicago area,” said Max Pedro, CEO and co-founder of Takeoff Technologies, in a statement. “Our solution makes online fulfillment faster and more affordable, so that our partners can pass those benefits along to their shoppers.”
Takeoff offers an automated technology solution that empowers grocers to thrive online, says the company, adding that the key to its operations is microfulfillment centers—small, robotic warehouses that can be placed inside grocery stores, and close to end shoppers.
The Takeoff solution includes software, hardware, consulting, maintenance and ongoing partnership support that allow retailers to easily integrate the solution into their existing businesses, says the company. Currently, Takeoff has dozens of operational microfulfillment centers in place. It adds that many more stores will follow in the upcoming years.
Takeoff is growing, with a total capital of $155 million raised to date. In addition to partnerships with Albertsons, the company works with Ahold Delhaize, Wakefern, Loblaws, Woolworths, Majid Al Futtaim/Carrefour, AWG, Big Y, and Sedano’s, with additional domestic and international partners to be disclosed shortly.