CENTREVILLE, Ohio — Getting those last minute ingredients for Thanksgiving dinner is becoming more convenient for residents near the Kroger store in Centerville, outside of Dayton.
The store is the pilot site for Kroger's drone delivery program. Starting this week, the drone deliveries will be expanded to within two miles of the store. The program launched in July with deliveries one mile away or less.
"It's actually very innovative with the technology. A drone picks up your order that you place with the store and then it's picked up and delivered to your house, dropped right in your yard," said Jenifer Moore, corporate affairs manager for Kroger.
Orders are placed through a designated website that displays hundreds of items available for delivery by drone. As long as the total weight is under five pounds, the items can be included in one drone delivery.
"What happens is the store associates go ahead and shop for you. And then it comes out to the drone delivery portion of our store where they weigh just to make sure that it's within the capacity limits, pack it up, make sure that items in the box are secure, then the drone picks it up and delivers it to you," she said.
A new feature also allows customers to custom-select what they need versus selecting from a pre-created bundle.
"(If) you're at home cooking Thanksgiving meals, you're low on spices and you need to add in yams or something else, you can create your own bundle and have that order delivered to you," said Moore.
Orders arrive within one hour, although Moore and others with the drone program say they often deliver in much less time, sometimes in about 15 minutes. It has become a popular convenience for people living near the Centerville store, according to Moore.
"There's been a lot of demand for the actual program," said Moore. "Now with that two-mile expansion, we can just reach some of our customers where they are."
Moore said it also allows the company to explore the impact the drone deliveries have on those who are unable to leave home.
Meanwhile, the 5-pound limit includes items that could be fragile or breakable.
"We have a great team and partnership with Drone Delivery Express. They package with materials that ensures that the items are not damaged upon arrival," Moore said. "Eggs, wine bottles, glass: It's all packed securely."
Kroger uses multiple drones to complete the orders received at the Centerville store. The Cincinnati-based grocer has not given a timeline of when or if the deliveries will be expanded to the Tri-State area.