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Engadget reports that Ahold Delhaize-owned Stop & Shop, beginning this spring in Boston, will test out robotic vehicles that will “bring a chunk of the store to your door.”

These autonomous vehicles, the story says, “will let you shop for produce, meal kits and ‘convenience items’ (think bread and eggs) just outside your home. You just have to hail one of the Robomart-made cars through a mobile app, unlock the vehicle when it arrives, and pick your food -- a combination of computer vision and RFID tagging automatically flags your purchases. It's not quite Amazon Go on wheels, but it's close.”

No word yet on how much the experience will cost.

Engadget writes that “the approach could be more practical than straightforward delivery for some. Instead of having to commit to a purchase before the vehicle has even left the store, you can browse on your own terms (albeit from a narrow selection) without having to travel beyond your home. Of course, this is helpful for grocery stores as well. In addition to providing an extra form of revenue, it could expand a store's reach to cover people who can't realistically visit, whether it's due to travel times, physical abilities, or just the lack of a personal car.”
KC's View:
Interesting idea, and more evidence that Ahold Delhaize seems to be both finding its footing in the 21st century food retail environment and moving forward, trying lots of innovative ideas.

I still think that the concept advanced by Fleat - a startup that is using technology to create trucks that carry product selections customized to specific neighborhoods’ previous purchasing behavior, and then communicating about the routes of those trucks to people in those neighborhoods via app, texts and emails - is a little more ambitious. But when you look at both these sorts of innovations, it tells you a lot about one of the directions that the food retailing business is taking.