CITRUS HEIGHTS, Calif. (KTXL) — For people in Northern California who do their grocery shopping virtually, Safeway is working to make the process easier and faster.
The grocery chain’s new micro-fulfillment center in Citrus Heights was completed earlier this year and features state-of-the-art technology and automation.
The facility’s goal is to dramatically speed up and improve how the grocery outlet handles virtual orders set to go right to customers’ doorstep.
Here’s how the process works for customers. All they need to do is go to one of Safeway’s e-commerce platforms like the Safeway App. They then can make their shopping order. That order comes to the micro-fulfillment center where humans and robots get right to work.
“I think it’s been very successful,” said Safeway Division President of Northern California Karl Schroeder.
Schroeder told FOX40 that because of the center, virtual orders are now handled at 10 times the speed they were before.
“By doing this, we can be much more efficient and faster, and that allows us to open up more options for customers that want to do e-commerce – home delivery or pickup in the store. It gives them more options for when they want it, and in particular, faster,” Schroeder explained.
Schroeder said the Citrus Heights center is Safeway’s fourth such facility in Northern California.
Just like the others, the space is in the back of an actual Safeway grocery store which Schroeder said it’s critical to ensure fresh and perishable foods are on hand and ready for delivery.
“The real advantage, I think, is we still have that employee that’s out there selecting fresh produce. It’s the same produce that’s on display for a customer, and then think about a meat order, an item that combines that fresh and local with automation and it works quite well,” Schroeder said.
As for concerns from some that automated technology and robots take jobs from humans, Schroeder said at Safeway, it’s quite the opposite.
“We actually added 65 jobs. It’s just a great way of growing and we need employees to do that,” Schroeder said.
Safeway officials said the company plans to create additional micro-fulfillment centers in Northern California in the near future.