Stop and Shop will be partnering with mobile market startup Robomart to bring grocery stores on wheels to the Boston area this Spring. Unlike traditional grocery delivery services, customers will not pre-order products to be dropped at their door. Instead, they will order a remote-operated Robomart vehicle to their door through an app much like Uber or Lyft. Once it arrives, they will be able to pick out their own produce, meal kits, and convenience items from the pre-stocked shelves inside the vehicle. Using patent-pending RFID “check-out free” technology, the Robomart app will charge customers automatically for whatever products they select.
Last week’s announcement of this pilot brought up questions of affordability, accessibility, and automation in the grocery delivery sector. Massachusetts based grocery chain Stop and Shop is the first of robomarts customers, and plans to launch a pilot of the product in early 2019. “Robomart adds another element of convenience as it is the first to actually bring the grocery store to the customer and let them shop right at their doorstep,” states Stop and Shop Director of External Communication, Jennifer Brogan. “It helps meet a clear demand among customers to hand-select their own fresh produce – without having to travel to the store.” Robomarts obviously cannot stock the same selection as a traditional grocery store spanning tens or even hundreds of thousands of square feet, so the grocery chain has decided to focus primarily on fresh produce and meal kits.