BrightDrop expands into grocery fulfillment

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by Emily Atkins

BrightDrop, GM’s EV delivery van venture, is expanding its business and product portfolio with the launch of a new temperature-controlled eCart that helps streamline order fulfillment and pickup for online grocery purchases.

The eCart is a nine-compartment, power-assisted and temperature-controlled cart that pickers fill in store and then leave curbside for customers to retrieve their orders.

Access is given after digital verification, and the Trace Grocery app that controls the cart is compatible with most grocers’ existing online fulfillment apps, enabling flexibility for customers when retrieving their purchases.

The unit can keep orders cold for up to fours hours. The nine compartments allow to orders to be split by temperature and product type.

The assisted propulsion means pickers can load the cart with up to 350 pounds of groceries and still move the unit easily. it also has automatic braking to stop the electric motor that matches an operator’s walking speed up to 5 kmh.

Kroger, the largest grocer in the US, is slated to be the first customer to introduce the BrightDrop Trace Grocery into its e-commerce operations, beginning this year.

Kroger trialed the unit at two locations earlier this year, helping brighDrop refine the concept. During this pilot, Kroger experienced a noticeable improvement in the customer and associate experience.

“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.

“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.”

BrightDrop has secured more than 25,000 EV production reservations and letters of intent while delivering over 100 EVs to its U.S. launch customer, marking one of the nation’s largest deployments of commercial electric delivery vans to date.

Full-scale availability of the Trace Grocery is expected in 2024.