January 16, 2019 – Stop & Shop announced today that it will launch driverless grocery vehicles in the greater Boston area beginning this spring. The vehicles will bring a selection of Stop & Shop produce as well as meal kits and convenience items directly to customers so they can shop right at their doorsteps.
Part of an engagement with San Francisco-based startup Robomart, the vehicles will address consumers’ growing interest in selecting their own fresh produce when shopping via online or mobile and will deliver an even more convenient grocery shopping experience for Stop & Shop customers in the Boston area. The new service will also offer the potential for the brand to expand beyond its existing brick-and-mortar stores.
“This is one way in which we’re leveraging new technology to make shopping easier for our customers – by essentially bringing the store to them,” said Mark McGowan, Stop & Shop President. “We also recognize that many of our customers want the opportunity to make their own choices when it comes to fresh produce, and we're proud to be the first retailer to engage with Robomart to address our customers’ needs with their cutting-edge solution.”
Stop & Shop customers in the Boston area can summon a Robomart vehicle with a smartphone app. Upon the vehicle’s arrival, they head outside, unlock the vehicle’s doors and then personally select the fruits, vegetables and other products they would like to purchase. When finished shopping, they simply close the doors and send the vehicle on its way. The vehicles’ RFID and computer vision technology automatically records what customers select to provide for a checkout-free experience, with receipts emailed within seconds.
“For decades, consumers had the convenience of their local greengrocer and milkman coming door to door, and we believe that by leveraging driverless technology we can recreate that level of convenience and accessibility,” said Robomart Founder and CEO Ali Ahmed. “We’re extremely excited to bring our vision to life with Stop & Shop, one of the most pioneering and forward-thinking grocery chains in the world.”
All Robomart vehicles are autonomous, electric and remotely piloted from a Robomart facility. Throughout their delivery journey, these refrigerated vehicles will be restocked with fresh Stop & Shop goods to ensure customers are provided with the best selection.
The collaboration with Robomart is the latest example of Stop & Shop’s efforts to tap technology to enhance the grocery shopping experience and increase efficiencies. The brand recently opened a mechanized micro-fulfillment center in the Hartford, Connecticut, area in partnership with Takeoff Technologies and, along with Giant/Martin’s, is introducing hundreds of robots in its stores.
Other Ahold Delhaize brands are investing in innovation as well, including Albert Heijn with the upcoming launch of the first fully automated distribution center in the Netherlands. Further, Ahold Delhaize is partnering with universities through its Artificial Intelligence for Retail (AIR) Lab to accelerate research in AI and robotics.