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Here in Ontario, Canada we have an online food delivery service (https://grocerygateway.com) and they built a super-automated distribution factory to help run this (and all of their stores in the area).

A distribution center in the UK has already mastered this:

> The Ocado Andover CFC is a three-storey grid of storage crates containing groceries. On top of the grid a fleet of 1,100 robots grab items and deliver them to “pick stations” where “personal shoppers” assemble orders for delivery. According to Ocado, an order of 50 items takes five minutes to pick and pack.



Google "automated grocery distribution", there's plenty of examples.

This is essentially unskilled labour moving boxes from one point to another. The exception is vegetables/fruit where a human discards the bad stuff before it goes into another box for delivery on a truck. 95% of that process could be automated. Including eventually the delivery drivers in between the distribution center <-> retail endpoint pickup centers (where consumers and last-mile Instacart/delivery drivers can go in person for pickup - I'm assuming humans will be needed for home delivery for a long time).

Instacarts biggest drawback is the cost and how they nickel-and-dime you, but GroceryGateway is run by the grocery store itself, and it's much better and actually helps you save money by shows you all the deals in the interface (imagine sorting a grocery store by discounts and price, as you walk through it gets more expensive). There is very little markup vs the stores, I've found it to be cheaper in practice, especially factoring in my time.

A fully integrated/automated version of this with far less urban real estate + labour costs will bring the prices down significantly.

I have a feeling only smaller luxury/farmers market/vegetable+fruit+meat only (+ semi-automated pantry section) shops will exist in the future. You don't really need to pick up most stuff by hand, but an in-person browsing UX can still be useful. Ikea stores are halfway to figuring this out.

I've used both and they are different services.

Grocerygateway you select like white bread and hope that yoir brand and brown bread doesn't come. You select apples and they are out and will give you pears.

InstantCart felt modern. You select the exact brand size. When the morning comes you will see the items the person found in real time on the app. The useful part was when an item is not found the delivery person will select a replacement that you see in real time and you can reject or replace with other items. For those that want a more interactive shopping experience I recommend, feels like I'm on the phone with someone as they shop.

With Ocado I select a time slot and they know what will be available with very few substitutions. Definitely not apples-for-pears level.

It's up to them to tune. They could make it exact(don't overpromise any stock) but then be stuck with unsold stock due to customers amending their orders. Or they can oversell slightly and offer refunds or returns for unwanted substitutions, which is what they do.

Yeah I agree, the future is somewhere in between the two. I basically want Instacart UI/UX attached to an automated grocery distribution center.

> The Ocado

Who are running a service to almost 0% of their normal customers right now

What makes you say that? New registrations have been closed for a long time

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