Kroger Co. has spent years – and hundreds of millions of dollars – investing in technology to give it a digital advantage in the grocery industry. But when the coronavirus changed the buying habits of customers overnight, the grocery chain was not as ready for the change online as some of its competitors.
The country’s largest grocer, Kroger, has invested money in projects ranging from an autonomous grocery delivery robot to a partnership to sell goods in China through Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. He also bet that a delivery model using remote distribution centers popular in Europe would resonate in the United States. Yet when the pandemic sent a tsunami of customers ordering groceries online for the first time, it was unable to meet increased demand.
The large-scale investments have slowed the adoption of the technology for food delivery, leaving Kroger behind some of its competitors, former executives, current employees and a supplier said.
A spokeswoman for Kroger said the technology investments and partnerships were timely and allowed the grocer to quickly expand its e-commerce services.
In response to the pandemic, Kroger expanded contactless payments and introduced contactless delivery and contactless pickup. It is also testing a subscription program that provides for a year of delivery for an annual fee of $ 79, she said.