Robotics startup Fulfil Solutions today unveiled a fully automated platform it said was designed to revolutionize online grocery. Unlike other automation being tested in the grocery industry, Fulfil said its robots do all the picking and packing across all product categories and temperature states.
As it emerged from stealth, the robotics startup also announced that it recently closed a $60 million Series B round of funding led by Eclipse with participation from Khosla Ventures and DCVC.
Historically, fulfilling online grocery orders has been expensive
Fulfil said its robotics platform uniquely solves several challenges in the online grocery business. Although grocery e-commerce has soared in popularity since the pandemic and is expected to see annual sales double to $200 billion in the US alone by 2027, the cost to manually fulfill online grocery orders results in a loss – even before delivery costs are factored in.
Fulfill said its systems help reduce the costs of fulfilling online grocery orders. Source: Fulfill
As a result, online grocery is very expensive for customers, pick-up can be inconvenient, and product substitutions occur frequently.
Moreover, inefficient inventory management in grocery stores is a crucial reason a third of food is wasted globally – resulting in carbon emissions from food waste being nearly equal to that of all road transportation, combined, according to the United Nations.
“To address the many challenges facing online grocery, retailers must adopt efficient automation that substantially reduces costs and provides the accuracy, quality, and convenience customers expect,” said Fulfil CEO and President Mir Aamir. “That’s why our fully automated solution represents such a revolutionary step forward.
“Not only does it make online grocery retailing profitable while meeting customer expectations, but it also prioritizes social and environmental responsibility by cutting carbon emissions, eliminating food waste, and enabling healthier food to reach more households at lower cost,” Aamir added.
Fulfil's differentiated platform leverages advanced AI, machine learning, and optical and sensor technologies to enable next-generation inventory management and quality control.
Within the warehouse, Fulfil’s proprietary dispense stations handle any grocery item with computer-vision precision, and sensor fusion algorithms confirm that every item is packed successfully.
Fulfil’s mobile robots split and sequence items to prevent damage and minimize pack time, while dispense stations redistribute inventory to balance the load.
A database tracks every item’s location, origin, and expiration for a new level of real-time inventory management that enables perfect order accuracy and minimizes waste.
Fufil lands in San Francisco
Fulfil opened its first automated dark store, or micro-fulfillment warehouse, a few months ago in the San Francisco Bay Area city of Mountain View, in partnership with The Save Mart Companies, to power a same-day grocery delivery and pick-up service called Lucky Now.
The Save Mart Companies, a Kingswood Capital Management, LP portfolio company, and a California-based grocer, operates approximately 200 Save Mart, Lucky California, and FoodMaxx stores in the California Central Valley, Bay Area, and Northern Nevada.
In addition to its retail operation, the Save Mart Companies also operates SMART Refrigerated Transport and is a partner in Super Store Industries (“SSI”), which owns and operates a distribution center in Lathrop, and the Sunnyside Farms dairy processing plant in Turlock.
“The Save Mart Companies is thrilled to embrace innovative technologies that help deliver on-demand groceries to our customers on their own terms,” said Shane Sampson, executive chairman of the board for The Save Mart Companies. “With Lucky Now, powered by Fulfil’s robotic automation, we are excited to offer the best value on local and fresh products that our shoppers have come to know and trust.”
Within minutes of receiving an order, Fulfil’s robots accurately pick all categories of groceries – including refrigerated and frozen goods. The robots then bring packed grocery bags to a waiting area where drivers collect them.
“Today’s online grocery business is built on manual, wasteful, and expensive processes. Mir and the team at Fulfil have successfully developed a highly differentiated, full-stack solution to automate the $1 trillion grocery industry by automating all picking and packing,” said Jay Knafel, early growth partner at Eclipse. “We're thrilled to continue our support of Fulfil, by leading their Series B, as they demonstrate their ability to unlock value for businesses and end customers while advancing sustainability goals.”
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