Why go to the grocery store when the grocery store can come to you?
This is the logic behind grocery chain Stop & Shop’s new partnership with San Francisco-based company Robomart, which will bring mini self-driving convenience stores to customers in Boston this spring—and marks the latest in a long line of grocery delivery experiments.
According to an announcement, consumers summon the self-driving grocery store with an app. When the mobile store arrives, they unlock its doors, select the fruits, vegetables, meal kits and convenience items they want and close its doors. RFID and computer vision technology record the items taken, and customers are charged automatically. Receipts are emailed “within seconds.”
In addition to being autonomous, Robomart vehicles are electric and “will be remotely piloted from a Robomart facility.” They will be restocked “throughout the journey.”
Stop & Shop says the mobile grocery store is more convenient for customers and allows the retailer to expand beyond its physical footprint.
“We … recognize that many of our customers want the opportunity to make their own choices when it comes to fresh produce and we’re proud to be the first retailer to engage with Robomart to address our customers’ needs,” Stop & Shop President Mark McGowan said in a statement.
Ali Ahmed, Robomart’s CEO, likened the concept to the era of the milkman and greengrocer delivering goods to customers’ homes.
Stop & Shop, an Ahold Delhaize USA company, operates in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey.
In another high-tech grocery-store move, sister brand Giant Food Stores said it is deploying spill-detecting robots in its stores earlier this week.