Wakefern has launched a pilot program to test an e-commerce locker that stores and dispenses online orders to shoppers who use a barcode to access their purchases.

Wakefern Food Corp. is looking at in-store automation to improve fulfillment of online grocery orders.

A Kingston, N.Y., supermarket under the retail cooperative’s ShopRite banner is testing the Kardex Remstar Shuttle XP Vertical Lift Module (VLM) storage solution, Wakefern said Wednesday. The compact automated storage-and-retrieval system is designed to provide high-capacity storage in small spaces.

According to Wakefern and Switzerland-based Kardex, ShopRite marks second U.S. grocery to use the vertical Kardex Remstar Shuttle XP system.

“We are excited to use the Kardex Remstar Shuttle XP as another tool to enhance online shopping service,” Steve Henig, chief customer officer at Wakefern, said in a statement. “Our ShopRite from Home online shopping service is one of the fastest-growing parts of our business, and we are always looking for ways to streamline the online shopping process for our customers.”

ShopRite of Kingston, owned and operated by Wakefern member ShopRite Supermarkets Inc., is piloting the e-commerce storage solution in its ShopRite from Home department. Grocery orders are stored in totes on trays inside the Shuttle XP, and the unit automatically delivers the totes upon an order barcode scan when customers arrive at the store for pickup. The system also can deliver orders when a customer checks in for curbside pickup, the companies said.

Kardex noted that the Shuttle XP increases a store’s storage capacity fivefold as well as reduces order errors and customer wait times. The system also expands slot capacity for stores with limited space for processing online grocery orders.

“The Shuttle XP is a great solution for managing online orders in a small area,” according to Mark Dunaway, president of North America operations for Kardex Remstar, which has a U.S. office in Westbrook, Maine. “Our collaboration with ShopRite and Wakefern is a good example of how leveraging automation and technology can provide an enhanced customer experience.” 

On the automation front, Wakefern also has deployed robotics-driven micro-fulfillment centers (MFCs) powered by Waltham, Mass.-based Takeoff Technologies at three ShopRite locations in New Jersey to handle increased online grocery order volume and speed up fulfillment. The first Takeoff MFC launched in 2019 at a ShopRite in Clifton (Inserra Supermarkets), followed by facilities at stores in Egg Harbor (Village Super Market) and Flemington (ShopRite of Hunterdon County).

Keasbey, N.J.-based Wakefern’s retail network includes 362 supermarkets overall under the ShopRite, Price Rite Marketplace, The Fresh Grocer, Dearborn Market, Gourmet Garage, and Fairway Market banners in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. ShopRite’s nearly 280 stores are in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware and Maryland.

The original article can be found at Supermarket News.