May 3, 2021

KrogerDeliveryDrone400x275The Kroger Co. and Drone Express have announced a pilot program to offer grocery delivery via autonomous drones, expanding the retailer’s ecosystem to provide customers with “anything, anytime, anywhere.” The pilot program will take flight this spring in the Midwest, the companies said in a statement.

“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,” said Jody Kalmbach, group vice president of product experience at Kroger. “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 pilot will offer customers flexibility as Drone Express technology allows package delivery to the location of a customer’s smartphone, not just their street address. This means a customer can order picnic supplies to a park, sunscreen to a beach, or condiments to a backyard barbecue, for example. The grocery chain is designing bundled product offerings that fall within current weight limits for drone delivery, which is about five pounds. For example, Kroger will offer 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. The companies said customers can place orders and have eligible orders delivered within as little as 15 minutes.

“Autonomous drones have unlimited potential to improve everyday life, and our technology opens the way to safe, secure, environmentally friendly deliveries for Kroger customers,” said Beth Flippo, chief technology officer of Telegrid, which owns Drone Express. “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.”

Test flights will commence this week near the Kroger Marketplace in Centerville, Ohio (1095 South Main Street), the company said. It will be managed by licensed Drone Express pilots from an on-site trailer with additional off-site monitoring. Customer deliveries are scheduled to being later this spring, with a second pilot program happening during the summer at a Ralphs store in California.

More details on Drone Express are available at its website. Once the delivery program begins, customers can go to this website to order.