The Kroger Co., America's largest grocery retailer, announced the launch of two on-premise kitchens, respectively at stores in Metro Indianapolis, IN and Metro Columbus, OH. Developed in partnership with ClusterTruck, a technology start-up 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-premise kitchens were developed from the momentum and insights of an informative pilot launched in December 2019 in Carmel and Indianapolis, Indiana and Columbus, Ohio. Different from the off-premise concept, the new concept will repurpose approximately 1,000 square feet 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, spanning a variety of ingredients – and best characterized as food quality you can get at a sit-down restaurant with the personality of street food.
"Kroger remains focused on providing our customers with fresh food and experiences enabled by industry-leading insights and transformative technology," says Dan De La Rosa, Kroger's 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 second quarter 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 all orders are delivered to the customer within just 7 minutes of preparation — and on average, less 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.
"ClusterTruck combines leading software, high-quality ingredients, and delicious variety to elevate the prepared food delivery experience," says Chris Baggott, ClusterTruck co-founder and CEO. "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-premise kitchen is now open in Fishers, IN (9799 East 116th Street). Later this year, the second location will open in Dublin, Ohio (7625 Sawmill Road).