Albertsons strengthens partnership around micro-fulfillment centers

Albertsons and Takeoff Technologies worked on a micro-fulfillment center in a Safeway in San Jose, Calif.

Albertsons Cos. and Takeoff Technologies are expanding their micro-fulfillment centers (MFCs) strategy, speeding up the ability to get e-commerce orders out the door and to a consumer’s doorstep, but also enabling stores near an MFC to provide more locally relevant products, a key for private brands.   

“In collaborating with Takeoff, we’re able to leverage their thought leadership in ecommerce fulfillment with our expertise in running great grocery stores that meet customers’ everyday needs, and that’s exciting turf for us,” said Chris Rupp, EVP and chief customer and digital officer at Albertsons. “By placing an MFC in an existing store close to customers, we can carry a diverse and locally relevant selection of products, with the friendly touch of our local team to service the customer.”

Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons and the Waltham, Mass.-based grocery technology company Takeoff Technologies first began implementing an MFC, which utilizes robotic fulfillment and automation to execute e-commerce orders, in October, when an MFC launched in San Francisco. Another followed at a Safeway in San Jose, Calif., before the end of the year. The newest agreement between the two companies is to open more MFCs from Takeoff and they’re currently evaluating the market on where to expand.

The model brings the brick-and-mortar store's proximity to customers, with the automation of a large warehouse. The centers typically hold about 15,000-18,000 of the grocer's most popular SKUs.

“The micro-fulfillment center model is a key element in the store of the future,” said Vivek Sankaran, Albertsons' president and CEO. “It combines the efficiency of automation with the ease of meeting customers when and how they want to shop. In working with Takeoff, we can evolve how the MFC ties into our store and ecommerce ecosystems and accelerate our path to best serve our customers.”

Other grocers working with Takeoff include Wakefern Food Corp. banner ShopRite, Canadian grocer Loblaw Cos. Ltd., Ahold Delhaize USA's Stop & Shop, and Hispanic grocer Sedano's Supermarket.