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Grocer at the wheel makes an in-store twist on lightning-fast execution

A drive-thru grocery chain that processes orders in minutes applies the super-fast delivery methodology to in-store pickup.

Known as Opie, the retailer’s stores are open 24 hours a day and feature thousands of items, offering almost every category found in a traditional grocery store, including fresh meats, produce and baked goods. . Opie also offers a substantial assortment of organic and natural products.

[Read more: Opie Drive-Thru Grocery opens first store — with more in the works]

Customers have three options for shopping at Opie. They can park in any space in the store’s parking lot, place their order on the Opie app, select “I’m in the store now” at checkout and receive their purchases within minutes.

Buyers can also pre-order on the Opie app or website and pick up their merchandise in five minutes, with no fees or minimum orders. The express drive-thru option allows customers with small orders of around five items or less to stop and order with a clerk beside the car equipped with a tablet. Express steering wheel orders are processed within minutes and do not require you to place an order in advance.

Dark shops shine
Opie is built on the “dark store” concept, which uses small stores leveraging micro-fulfillment technology to fill orders for a locally targeted assortment of products within minutes. PPrimarily found in the grocery and CPG verticals, micro-fulfillment uses a ‘commodity to person’ style of automation and robotics, where a human associate stays in one place and the automation delivers to them. the goods to be picked up.

Major grocers who have applied micro-fulfillment to their inventory management and online delivery operations include Albertsons, has been manage “micro-fulfillment” centers supported by a hyperlocal execution solution from Takeoff Technologies. Located inside an existing store, micro-distribution centers typically contain around 15,000 to 18,000 of the most popular products in the local market.

The centers use robotic technology to fulfill e-commerce orders and provide real-time inventory information. By installing a micro-distribution center in an existing store close to customers, Albertsons hopes to be able to offer a diverse and locally relevant product selection.

Another high-profile example is the micro-execution Kroger and UK grocer Ocado-compatible ‘customer processing center’ (CFC) model initially developed in 2018. A CFC facility operates proprietary technology solutions focused on customer service. artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced robotics and automation. to create more transparent and efficient fulfillment, picking and delivery capabilities for enhanced digital commerce capabilities.

Super-fast pickup
However, Opie puts an in-store pickup-focused twist on a rapidly growing trend of start-up companies using dark stores based on micro-fills and online orders to provide super-fast delivery of groceries. and CPG. Startups including Gorillaz, Gopuff, Jokr, and Buyk all offer super-fast grocery delivery based on dark stores.

[Read more: Ultrafast delivery is gaining momentum]

In addition, in July 2021, Instacart unveiled the first phase of a next-generation automated execution initiative. As part of the new initiative, Instacart will combine Fabric software and robotics with its proprietary technology and buyers to enable a micro-fulfillment process in dedicated warehouses and existing retail locations.

The Mt. Pleasant Opie store is the first of five planned locations in the Charleston, SC area, with the next unit slated to open in Summerville, SC. According to the company, more than 100 investors currently want to open their own Opie stores.

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