Instacart is revealing the first phase of its next-generation fulfillment initiative in a multi-year strategic deal with Fabric as a fulfillment automation partner, Chain Store Age reported.
The addition comes at a time when Instacart is still benefiting from a surge in demand for online grocery delivery services. Several grocery retailers are continuing to ramp up their delivery capabilities--with micro-fulfillment becoming an increasingly popular solution to meet demand.
Leveraging Fabric’s software and robotics, Instacart will pair with its proprietary technology and shoppers for micro-fulfillment within existing warehouses and retailer locations. Instacart joins the ranks of other mass retailers, including Walmart, Kroger and Albertsons that have piloted micro-fulfillment technology.
Walmart and Albertsons have used automatic bots to retrieve grocery items from a compact storage center, while Kroger has outsourced to Ocada in a partnership to develop a network of automated micro-fulfillment facilities, known as customer fulfillment centers, CSA reported.
Our next-gen fulfillment initiative combines our robust technology suite and dedicated community of shoppers with robotics solutions to give retailers even more innovative ways to compete and serve their customers online. Our next-gen fulfillment work will also help reduce some of the things that make in-store shopping cumbersome for Instacart shoppers, like crowded store aisles, out of stock items and long checkout lines,” said Mark Schaaf, CTO of Instacart. “Over the long-term, we believe partnering with retailers to bring next-gen fulfillment technologies together with the personal touch and care of Instacart’s shopper community will create an even more seamless online grocery experience that’s faster and more affordable for customers and delivers even more value and growth to retailers.”
Instacart’s micro-fulfillment works by packing orders that then are delivered by shoppers to customers’ doors or placed outside in staging areas for curbside pickup. A number of grocery essentials are eligible for micro-fulfillment orders, including packaged goods, household essentials, produce, deli items, frozen food, and alcohol. The early stages of the partnership with Fabric will begin over the coming year and later.
“Everything about our micro-fulfillment solution has been built for speed, efficiency, and elasticity to meet today’s on-demand requirements,” said Elram Goren, CEO and co-founder of Fabric. “With Instacart as a partner, we see an enormous opportunity to integrate our product and services into Instacart’s ecommerce solutions to provide a compelling service offering for grocers. We’re excited to partner with Instacart as we continue to scale across North America and focus on unlocking more value for retailers and their customers.”