Just one month after announcing it would begin drone delivery service in Centerville, Ohio, grocery chain Kroger officially kicked off the service on Wednesday, according to a report in the Journal-News.
The drone service, provided by Drone Express, a division of Telegrid Technologies, will transport items up to 5 pounds from the Kroger store located at Centerville Kroger Marketplace. New Jersey-based Drone Express is operating the service using technology based in its nearby Monroe, Ohio, facility.
Neither Kroger nor Drone Express had responded to Modern Shipper requests for comment at publication time.
Kroger customers are able to buy prebundled offerings in the early stages of the pilot program. These include a baby care bundle with wipes and formula, a child wellness bundle with over-the-counter medications and fluids, and a s’mores bundle with graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate.
“Kroger’s new drone delivery pilot is part of the evolution of our rapidly growing and innovative e-commerce business – which includes pickup, delivery and ship and reached more than $10 billion in sales in 2020,” Kroger’s Jody Kalmbach, group vice president of product experience, said in May when announcing the pilot. “The pilot reinforces the importance of flexibility and immediacy to customers, powered by modern, cost-effective and efficient last-mile solutions. We’re excited to test drone delivery and gain insights that will inform expansion plans as well as future customer solutions.”
The drone flights are managed by Drone Express staff working from an on-site trailer with additional off-site monitoring. The companies are expected to launch a second pilot at a Ralphs store in California later this summer.
“The launch of the pilot in Centerville is the culmination of months of meticulous research and development by Kroger and Drone Express to better serve and meet the needs of our customers,” Ethan Grob, Kroger’s director of last-mile strategy and product, said in May. “We look forward to progressing from test flights to customer deliveries this spring, introducing one more way for our customers to experience Kroger.”
Test flights have been ongoing since the formal announcement in May.
“Autonomous drones have unlimited potential to improve everyday life, and our technology opens the way to safe, secure, environmentally friendly deliveries for Kroger customers,” Beth Flippo, chief technology officer of Telegrid, said. “The possibilities for customers are endless – we can enable Kroger customers to send chicken soup to a sick friend or get fast delivery of olive oil if they run out while cooking dinner.”