Bodegas and local grocers adopt delivery robots

A side-effect of the ongoing pandemic is a light speed shift in how mom & pops are adopting cloud-based technology and even robots.
Written by Greg Nichols, Contributing Writer

Big grocery chains are booming, and a large part of that is expanded rollout of delivery and online ordering. So how are small grocers staying alive during COVID-19?

A whopping 50% of consumers are now shopping online, which means local grocers, often competing in the same markets for the same customers as big chains, have had to reinvent their services. But developers and service-providers are easing the transition for local grocers, and a growing set of early adopters are now benefiting from robust and easy-to-implement as-a-service tools that extend the same kinds of online shopping and even robotic delivery options being developed by big chains to mom & pops, allowing them to sidestep steep service charges associated with third-party delivery apps. Don't be surprised if the quaint market down the street soon has its own cloud-based inventory management, ordering, and robotic delivery suite.

The sector is growing and evolving quickly. Two players in the local end-to-end digital commerce game, Self Point, an inventory management and online ordering platform, and Tortoise, which makes teleoperated delivery carts for local delivery, recently announced a partnership to try and corner the local grocery market with contactless door-to-door delivery. It's stunning to think that capability is now available to small grocers, who in many markets may actually succeed in outpacing big chains with online grocery offerings.

"We are thrilled to be able to serve our community in an innovative way using the Self Point and Tortoises' solution," says Mordi lalehzari, co-founder of Kosher Express. "The pandemic propelled us to move online and with the help of this unique offering, we efficiently rendered and executed an end-to-end solution that begins with placing an order online, continues with seamless fulfillment and ends with automated same-day delivery. We are thrilled to be able to provide our customers a simple and contactless shopping experience."

Using Self Point's platform, grocers build and manage their own catalogue of inventory and leverage advanced fulfilment methods online within hours. Grocers can then expand their offering to include Tortoises' teleoperated electric delivery cart, which is remote-controlled can carry over 100 lbs. of goods in modular containers. The cart has a range of 3 miles at a max speed of 7MPH. Like other robotic delivery suites, such as Starship's parcel and food delivery robot, the container is unlocked upon arrival and the customer and the store are notified of the completed delivery. 

"We are excited to enter into this collaboration with Self Point. Their advanced solution pairs perfectly with our remote-controlled carts as we share a common goal--to ensure grocers maintain control of their brand identity and customer loyalty," says Dmitry Shevelenko, Co-Founder & President of Tortoise. "Self Point's platform enables us to reach many local grocers, and we are thrilled to offer a safe, affordable and truly innovative way for people to receive their groceries. Together we guarantee that every touch point, from order to delivery, delights their consumers."

We expect to see more point of sale and inventory management solutions merging or partnering with robotics developers as autonomous home delivery begins to take off in urban markets.

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