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Ahold Delhaize is rolling out artificial intelligence to overhaul the way its US businesses order food from suppliers.

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Practical tests have begun to investigate the transition to emission-free supermarket supply.

Albert Heijn is working alongside DAF Trucks, Simon Loos, Peter Appel Transport and TNO to test electric trucks and trailers in cities.  In a European first, these tests will trial fully electric trucks and plug-in hybrid trucks.  The initial goal is to establish the functional and operational requirements that have to be met to deliver to city centre supermarkets emission-free in the future.

Part of a joint initiative 

The 'Green Deal Zero Emissie' (Green Deal Zero Emission) was signed by Albert Heijn alongside several shipping and transport companies and authorities in 2014.  The agreement is designed to review how urban deliveries can be made with the minimal amount of emissions going forward.  

Source: Albert Heijn

Practical testing

Testing has begun to establish how the transition to emission-free can be made.  The pilot has received a subsidy from Demonstration Climate Technologies and Innovations in Transport of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management.

Trials testing electric trucks in cities began this month.  The practical test includes plug-in hybrid trucks and fully electric trucks, which is a European first.  The plan is to test as many varying aspects of the emission-free goal as possible, be they operational, technical or financial.  This critical information will provide insight that creates the framework for organisations to operate within.  The initial test will trial three battery-powered electric trucks and two plug-in hybrid truck-trailers, a fast charging facility will also be part of the pilot.

Source: Albert Heijn

Future planning

Whilst there are limited heavy goods transport solutions that are emission free at present, the working group is positive about the options of using electric vehicles in the future.

More than 90% of deliveries to Albert Heijn stores are carried out by truck- trailer vehicle deliveries. There is a plan to recharge the batteries of vehicles between journeys at the DC in Zaandam.  From Zaandam, stores in Amsterdam are supplied, and it’s possible that stores in Utrecht could also be supplied using plug-in hybrid trucks.  The project will run for a minimum of two years. 

Ahold Delhaize USA has partnered with start-up Deliv to provide customers with same-day delivery for online orders.

The new service will initially be available at checkout to Giant Foods and Martin’s shoppers who order from Peapod. The retailer hopes to expand the service to other banners in the US soon.

JJ Fleeman, president of Peapod Digital labs and chief e-commerce office of Ahold Delhaize USA, said the service will help to “conquer the last mile… [and to] scale same-day delivery to the benefit of millions of local brand shoppers by 2020”.

US: Giant opens an ecommerce fulfilment hub

The banner is also set to open a new online pickup centre under a new brand, Giant Direct Powered by Peapod. The 3,530 sq. m centre, located in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, will provide walk-up and drive-up collection for online orders. There will also be a room where customers can place orders from tablets as well as autonomous robots, which will offer support.

Giant Food stores’ ecommerce business was previously known as “Peapod by Giant”. The change and creation of a new facility reflects Ahold Delhaize’s new go-to-market strategy for its ecommerce operations. It also marks the first dark-store conversion, helping to widen the brand’s delivery reach.

Source: Ahold Delhaize

Netherlands: Albert Heijn grows lettuce on water

Meanwhile in the Netherlands, Albert Heijn has started selling six types of lettuce that have been grown on water. These include, Butter Lettuce, Red and Green Oak Leaf Lettuce, Frisee, Lollo Rossa and Batavia. According to the retailer, the “taste, nutritional values and shelf life of these lettuce varieties are comparable to those from the open ground”.

The retailer explained that the growing and transport of lettuce takes place within the Netherlands throughout the year. “Only in winter does a small percentage of lettuce come from Spain, for example, which saves a lot of transport costs and emissions”. Hydroponically grown plants therefore have a smaller sustainable footprint than traditionally grown plants.

Source: Albert Heijn

The move follows Albert Heijn’s earlier trial of a fixture which let shoppers harvest their own lettuce. The retailer worked with lettuce suppliers and Dutch company Hrbs to supply its store in Gelderlandplein, Amsterdam.

Ahold Delhaize-owned Stop & Shop is introducing a high-tech approach to grocery delivery in Boston, Massachusetts.

Doorstep shopping

Starting in spring 2019, Stop & Shop will use driverless vehicles to deliver a range of products, including meal kits and convenience items to customers’ homes, allowing them to shop from their doorstep. There has been an increase in driverless vehicles being used to deliver orders placed online. This takes the idea one step further, allowing the customer to choose their own items and shop directly from the vehicle.

The retailer has partnered with Robomart, a start-up company based in San Francisco. Mark McGowan, Stop & Shop President said, “This is one way in which we’re leveraging new technology to make shopping easier for our customers – by essentially bringing the store to them.”

A fully automated experience

Customers can use the app to request the vehicle to come to them, on arrival, they can choose the products they want to purchase, and when they’ve finished ‘shopping’ they close the vehicle’s doors. The vehicle is equipped with technology to monitor and record what the customer has taken and emails a receipt to the customer for a checkout free experience.

Source: Robomart

Ultra convenience

Ali Ahmed, Founder and CEO of Robomart said, “For decades, consumers had the convenience of their local greengrocer and milkman coming door to door, and we believe that by leveraging driverless technology we can recreate that level of convenience and accessibility.” The vehicles are remotely controlled from a Robomart facility and are restocked regularly to ensure each customer is offered the best possible selection of produce.


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