Kroger Co. expands home delivery options with Kroger Ship service

Direct-to-consumer shipping in four cities

CINCINNATI - Cincinnati will be one of four initial markets for the Kroger Co.’s latest e-commerce initiative that makes more than 50,000 products available for direct shipping to your home.

Kroger Ship will offer “a curated selection” of 4,500 Kroger-brand products that are “not available anywhere else online,” along with 50,000 grocery and household items, according to a press release.

Delivery is free with orders of $35 or more, or $4.99 for smaller orders. A one-time use code lets customers try the service with no delivery fee and a 15 percent discount on the order. Next-day delivery will be possible through FedEx and the U.S. Postal Service, but it's not guaranteed.

“Kroger’s ecommerce platform expands our offering beyond the physical store to include even more products,” said Yael Cosset, Kroger’s chief digital officer, in a press release. “Along with staples and customer favorites, Kroger Ship will carry bulk and additional sizes, and focus on Our Brands, local and international food and flavors, specialty items, and health and wellness products.”

The service is starting in Cincinnati, Louisville, Houston and Nashville, with additional markets to be added in the coming months. Spokeswoman Kristal Howard said Kroger Ship is "greatly influenced" by Vitacost, an online health-food retailer that Kroger purchased in 2014. It will begin with non-perishable goods, shipped from fulfillment centers in Nevada and North Carolina. Kroger plans to open a third fulfillment center in Boone County this fall to expand its capacity.

It’s the latest in a series of e-commerce announcements by the Cincinnati-based grocery chain, including a partnership with the British online retailer Ocado to build up to 20 robot-enabled distribution facilities to deliver groceries from warehouses to homes.

Kroger is also experimenting with driverless cars for home delivery with Nuro, a California company that was introduced to shareholders at Kroger’s annual meeting.

Since the announcement, Nuro has advertised for a “city manager to develop and oversee day-to-day operations of one of our first major delivery services” in Phoenix, Arizona. Nuro doesn’t name the partner and Kroger declined to confirm that Phoenix is the city where it will test a grocery delivery service with autonomous vehicles.

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