The Kroger Co. is launching two on-premises kitchens at stores in Indianapolis, Ind., and Columbus, Ohio. Developed in partnership with ClusterTruck, a technology startup that operates delivery-only restaurants, the kitchens will provide a variety of freshly prepared meals on demand with no service or delivery fees.
Kroger and ClusterTruck's on-premises kitchens were developed from the momentum and insights of an informative pilot launched in December 2019 in Indianapolis and Carmel, Ind., and Columbus. Different from the off-premises concept, the new concept will repurpose approximately 1,000 sq. ft. at each participating store to create a culinary space for ClusterTruck staff to prepare meals for quick delivery and in-store pickup. Customers can order from a menu of more than 80 meals that span a variety of ingredients – and of food quality comparable to a sit-down restaurant but with the personality of street food, the company said.
"Kroger remains focused on providing our customers with fresh food and experiences enabled by industry-leading insights and transformative technology," said Dan De La Rosa, Kroger group vice president of fresh merchandising. "The new on-premise kitchen, in partnership with ClusterTruck, is an innovation that streamlines ordering, preparation and delivery, supporting Kroger as we meet the sustained customer demand for quick, fresh restaurant-quality meals, especially as we navigate an unprecedented health crisis that has affected every aspect of our lives, including mealtime."
The expansion of Kroger's relationship with ClusterTruck reflects the retailer's ongoing investments in providing a variety of prepared fresh food options and creating a seamless experience for customers. Kroger experienced a 127% digital sales lift in the second quarter of 2020 as customers continued to use digital ordering options, including pickup, delivery and ship to home.
Indianapolis-based ClusterTruck is a pioneer in the ghost kitchen space, building a proprietary software system that creates custom algorithms to optimize kitchen and delivery operations and removes the pain points of the third-party delivery model. ClusterTruck's systematic approach to meal delivery allows the company to ensure that all orders are delivered to the customer within just seven minutes of preparation and, on average, in fewer than 30 minutes of ordering. The combination of ClusterTruck's innovative technology platform, optimization of meal delivery and launch at Kroger stores has the potential to create a new and more sustainable model, the company said.
"ClusterTruck combines leading software, high-quality ingredients and delicious variety to elevate the prepared food delivery experience," ClusterTruck co-founder and chief executive officer Chris Baggott said. "As the prepared food delivery category continues to explode, we're thrilled to play such a pivotal role in Kroger's fresh and forward-thinking meal delivery strategy."
Kroger's first on-premises kitchen is now open in Fishers, Ind. Later this year, the second location will open in Dublin, Ohio.