Kroger is one of the largest grocery brands in the United States known for its quality service and sincere hospitality. They have also led the industry with innovative new ideas including being an early pioneer in offering curbside pickup.
As a leader in the industry, they have also responded to the COVID-19 crisis in ways that go beyond just taking proactive steps, including adjusted store operating hours, enhanced cleaning procedures, physical distancing precautions, and expanded employee benefits.
In this blog, we highlight how Kroger used innovation to turn an active store into a “curbside pickup only” location to meet the increased volume and demand for groceries during this time.
Consumer grocery shopping behavior changed dramatically when the crisis started. It drove significant demand for online grocery shopping, fulfilled through delivery or curbside pickup, as consumers grew increasingly wary of crowded public spaces and followed the advice to limit their exposure from outside trips.
The impact was very sudden and unexpected, presenting an operational challenge for Kroger (and all grocers). For grocers, they were faced with consumers who were now ordering larger basket sizes and more often but grocers only had limited curbside pickup and delivery availability.
As a result, consumers were faced with limited pickup windows leading to an unsatisfactory customer experience.
Kroger made the innovative decision to test a “curbside pickup only” store in a large suburban market. The goal was to serve more customers by reducing their average wait time and becoming more efficient. The focus was on streamlining their operations, as well as becoming a test model for other stores.
They chose an existing location in Mount Carmel, Ohio, near Cincinnati. The store no longer offers in-store shopping (except for pharmacy orders) but instead dedicates employees and operations to fulfilling only curbside pickup grocery orders.
The team at Kroger partnered with Rakuten Ready to help optimize the customer experience with our ARRIVE predictive arrival platform so employees know exactly when customers will arrive. Although ARRIVE is already in use at Kroger locations across the U.S., this store was specially configured to create two curbside pickup zones with each zone accommodating 20 parking spots.
By converting the store to curbside pickup only, Kroger, with ARRIVE, was able to create more supply and help meet demand in the Cincinnati market.
With 40 additional park spots, the store was able to handle a 25X increase in demand for its curbside pickup service. The store was able to do this because Kroger leveraged ARRIVE to predict when a customer would be arriving, allowing them to prep orders before customers showed up for their delivery slot.
Rakuten Ready ARRIVE technology was able to help optimize the customer experience by allowing the store to handle the increased demand (customer visit frequency and basket size) while also lowering wait times.
The Mount Carmel location marks the first test of this concept, but the insights being gathered will allow Kroger to reimagine the grocery experience and roll out even more innovative ideas in the future.
The world is changing rapidly and expectations are growing, so let Rakuten Ready help you move faster than ever to deliver a superior customer experience.
Learn more about Rakuten Ready ARRIVE.