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Logistics & Fulfilment

Woolworths amps up automation to propel online grocery

Australian retail giant Woolworths has partnered with US e-grocery startup Takeoff Technologies to speed up its online grocery operations.

Takeoff Technologies will build compact, automated micro fulfillment centres in collaboration with the supermarket chain to improve its online offering, with innovative technology minimising the amount of space required for operations and saving staff time picking products.

Woolworths will begin adding Takeoff’s automated micro fulfillment technology at three initial Woolworths store locations within the next 12 months, before making a decision on a further roll out.

While the locations are yet to be determined, the retailer said they may include its supermarkets and drinks operations.

Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci said the retailer wants to “enhance” customers’ online experience and the speed at which it make orders available to them. 

“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 in a statement on Tuesday.

“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.

“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.”

Jose Vicente Aguerrevere, co-founder and CEO of Takeoff said the exclusive partnership with Woolworths in Australia will help the retailer evolve its e-commerce operations to better meet the needs of shoppers.

“We are thrilled to partner with Woolworths Group,” Aguerrevere said. 

“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.”

Last month, Woolworths announced plans to merge its drinks and hospitality businesses into a single entity, to be divested from the group in 2020, to allow for a greater focus on its core food business.

The supermarket will be hoping the addition of further automated technology will help the retailer rival Coles, which announced a partnership with online grocery giant Ocado earlier this year.

This story first appeared on sister site, Inside FMCG.

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