Woolworths to trial automated ‘micro fulfilment’ sites

Signs agreement with Takeoff Technologies

Woolworths will implement automated ‘micro fulfilment capabilities’ at three sites over the next 12 months as part of a trial to help the supermarket chain meet growing online shopping volumes.

Woolworths today revealed details of its partnership with US ‘eGrocery’ startup Takeoff Technologies. The startup’s robotic fulfilment solution is compact enough to be rolled out at Woolworths’ existing stores.

The automated vertical system means that employees don’t have to walk up and down aisles to select items to fulfil orders, Woolworths said.

“We see the future of online delivery as a mix of our large scale fulfillment centres in major metropolitan areas and a localised approach that leverages the strength of our national store network,” said Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci.

The retailer plans to evaluate the technology following the rollout at the initial sites, which have not yet been selected.

“This partnership with Takeoff will allow us to deliver ultra convenience at a local level, with the ability to be even closer to the customer for that last mile delivery,” Banducci said.

“We’re excited to see how this partnership develops, helping us accelerate our customer offering with faster order picking, while also enhancing the overall shopping experience,” the CEO said.

“We are thrilled to partner with Woolworths Group,” co-founder and CEO of Takeoff Jose Vicente Aguerrevere said in a statement.

“They are a major player in the online grocery and drinks sector and our solution provides them with the perfect platform to continue to evolve their eCommerce operations and meet customers’ changing needs. We look forward to a very successful deployment of our partnership.”

Woolworths rival Coles in March announced it would implement an online ordering and delivery platform from UK company Ocado.

Coles expects the Ocado Smart Platform to double its national home delivery capacity and boost the profit margin of its online grocery business.

Coles has also signed contracts with WITRON Australia to develop automated ambient distribution centres.

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