The Kroger Co. is testing a solution to solve “the last mile” of omnichannel retail — the post-purchase operations focused on getting merchandise into shoppers’ hands quickly and efficiently.
The supermarket giant bolstered its home shopping model in 2016, by adding more than 420 ClickList and ExpressLane locations, a move that now gives it more than 640 online ordering locations, Rodney McMullen, the chain’s chairman and CEO said in the company’s earnings call on March 2. ClickList is a service that enables shoppers to order online and pick up merchandise in-store.
Eager to streamline how shoppers can receive these orders, “We are also experimenting with ways to solve the last mile equation,” he said.
For Kroger, that means testing Uber deliveries in several locations.
Pending positive results, Kroger plans to expand this program later this year, enabling customers to “order through ClickList and choose to have their groceries delivered by a local Uber driver,” McMullen said, adding the company is working on other home delivery tests, as well. He did not give specifics about these programs.
Some industry observers are leery of the grocer’s partnership with Uber. This is mainly due to recent attention the livery service has received due to labor and wage discrepancies related to its “gig-economy” model — a concept that enables individuals to work day-to-day without a fixed contract, according to Fortune.
In the meantime, the grocer continues to learn from pilots and build its digital experiences.
“More and more customers are connecting digitally with Kroger,” he said. “We are leveraging refined customer insights from 84.51 [data analytics], as well as years of online shopping experience from both Vitacost.com and Harris Teeter to develop a sophisticated understanding of our cus-tomers’ behavior when shopping with us online, in store and both.”
Using this data, Kroger is making more accurate decisions about where to offer ClickList, “what are the right assortments and promotions to engage customers online, and how can we offer the quality and convenience online that customers’ have come to expect from a Kroger brick-and-mortar location,” McMullen said.