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05/05/2022

Unilever to offer robotic direct-to-consumer ice cream sales

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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ice cream shop
Unilever and Robomart are launching a robotic ice cream shop.

A CPG giant and what’s billed as the world’s “first store-hailing platform” are teaming up to offer a 21st-century version of the ice cream truck.

Unilever is taking its virtual direct-to-consumer (DTC) ice cream storefront, The Ice Cream Shop, on the road. Starting in summer 2022, Unilever will deploy a fleet of Robomart on-demand mobile mini-marts. Known as “The Ice Cream Shop Robomarts,” the robotic stores will offer products from Unilever ice cream brands including Ben & Jerry’s, Breyers, Good Humor, Magnum ice cream, and Talenti to consumers in the Los Angeles area.

Leveraging Robomart’s one-tap grocery ordering technology, consumers will be able to hail The Ice Cream Shop Robomarts to their location using Robomart’s proprietary mobile app. When it arrives, the user will swipe across the app to open the vehicle’s door. 

Robomart’s proprietary, RFID-based checkout-free system allows consumers to retrieve their selected products and walk away, without having to physically check out or swipe their credit card.

Robomart – the ‘store that comes to you’

Initially launched in West Hollywood, Calif. in summer 2021, the Robomart concept works in a similar fashion to Uber in that consumers, using the proprietary Robomort app, can hail a mobile store to come to them and have it arrive at their chosen location in under 10 minutes. Robomart allows consumers to view a list of all products in the Robomart app before hailing and then handpick their items when the vehicle arrives at their door – eliminating product selection error or out of stock items.

The company premiered with two Robomart types, including Pharmacy Robomart, which includes shampoo, hand sanitizer, ibuprofen and more. A Snacks Robomart includes chocolates, chips, soft drinks and other ready-to-eat snack products. Other planned Robomart types include Grocery, Pantry, Deli, and Café

“We’re excited to work with Unilever – the world’s largest ice cream maker – to pilot The Ice Cream Shop as one of the flagship storefronts on our new marketplace,” said Ali Ahmed, Robomart CEO and co-founder, Robomart. “Putting a spin on the classic ice cream truck by bringing it to consumers on-demand, we have pioneered a new way for everyone to get their favorite ice cream treats in as little as two minutes. This rollout brings to life the original vision my co-founder and I had over a decade ago while working at Unilever to create ‘The Everywhere Store’ – the fastest and most accessible way to get all your essentials.”

“We’re thrilled to partner with Robomart to offer a new way to bring our virtual store, The Ice Cream Shop, to fans in Los Angeles in an innovative way,” said Russel Lilly, GM, Unilever North American Ice Cream. “Our pilot program with Robomart is revolutionizing ice cream delivery for consumers and making it even faster to get our beloved brands to our ice cream fans. What better way to shop for your favorite ice cream than just a few steps from your front door?

According to Unilever, it is the world’s largest manufacturer of ice cream.