Kroger Debuts Automated Grocery Store in Cedar Springs

Kroger Debuts Automated Grocery Store in Cedar Springs

Kroger debuts automated grocery store in Cedar Springs: Kroger is converting one of its Dallas stores to a full self-service checkout mode on a trial basis. This store, one of the smallest in Kroger, is located at 4142 Cedar Springs Road. As of February 17, it will have only self-service checkouts, and it will be the only one among the chain’s 2,700 stores in the United States that is testing the new concept. At the same time, Kroger is installing new checkout counters that are sure to appeal to customers who struggle with too many items in the small checkouts that have been operating for years in supermarkets and department stores.

Wideband automatic checkouts accommodate a high volume of items and are very similar to conventional checkouts, with bagging stations at the end of each. Kroger said it will have staff present to assist customers in completing their own purchase records.

Kroger debuts automated grocery store in Cedar Springs

Eight other Kroger stores in the Dallas area already have wider belts, but “there are currently no plans” to convert other North Texas stores entirely to checkout, said April Martin, a spokeswoman for Kroger in Texas. The Cedar Springs branch will still have checkout staff and courtesy clerks to assist customers and will retain the smaller automated checkout lines that already exist, she said.

Kroger’s new contract with the United Food and Commercial Workers union for 11,000 employees in 98 stores in the region includes clauses that allow for changes in technology, said Jennifer Foley-Howard, a Grapevine-based UFCW section 1000 spokeswoman.

“What worries the union would be the reduction of jobs,” she said.

The union will be watching to see if the large checkouts don’t end up displacing workers, Foley-Howard said in an email response.

“We understand that there will be no displaced workers. In fact, there could be more courtesy employees, ”she said.

Another problem is theft.

Kroger will likely be using technology to quietly monitor that doesn’t happen, said Bill Bishop, co-founder of Brick Meets Click, a Chicago consulting firm.

The company declined to elaborate, but Martin said:

“Kroger has implemented measures to optimize store security and decrease possible criminal activity such as theft or fraud.”

“We are always looking for new ways to reinvent the checkout experience for our customers. The way people shop is constantly evolving. Just look at how quickly new demographics are embracing online shopping and services. This is just one manifestation of how Kroger is listening to the market. ”

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In the store there are signs that announce upcoming changes to customers, remind them that they will be able to continue scanning their coupons, and promote the use of the Kroger digital wallet.

Consumers commenting on the changes on social media had mixed reactions to the idea.

The coronavirus pandemic has made consumers want to avoid physical contact, and last year they quickly started shopping online. Same with front-line store clerks.

“The pandemic has made consumers and stores more willing to accept change,” Bishop said.

Long before covid-19, Amazon introduced contact-free shopping in its Amazon Go stores.

With this technology, the consumer places the items in their basket and leaves the store without going through the traditional checkout line to pay.

Automatic cart?

Kroger has been testing a new shopping cart it calls KroGo at a store in Madeira, Ohio, near Cincinnati, where it is based.

On that store’s website, Kroger explains that “KroGO is a smart shopping cart that has a built-in scale and camera, providing an easier shopping experience, with less contact and a faster checkout process.”

Winsight Grocery Business, a publication in the outlet, recently reported that this smart cart was developed with Caper, a fledgling technology firm. Testing has been going on since last fall. Kroger is also building fully automated warehouses with British company Ocado to fill orders placed online, one of them in Dallas set to open in 2022.

“With KroGo, checkouts, and other technologies, Kroger is trying to determine which has the best response from consumers,” Bishop said.

“They are letting the market tell them what the best ideas are.” For further updates to follow for the latest Kroger news.

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