- Micro-fulfillment center (MFC) developer Alert Innovation has named Fitz Morgan, a veteran technology industry executive who has served as its chief operating officer since 2020, as chief executive officer, according to a press release on Monday.
- Morgan is assuming the post from Alert founder John Lert, who will become executive chairman.
- Alert is changing its leadership structure as grocers display increased interest in using automation to improve the efficiency of their e-commerce businesses.
The appointment of Morgan as Alert's top executive puts him in charge of the company at a pivotal time for the MFC industry, which has seen its profile rise as retailers strain to meet customer demand for delivery and pickup services.
The 350-employee startup is looking to market its robotic order-assembly system, known as Alphabot, as a host of competitors make headway in their efforts to help companies automate their online fulfillment capabilities.
Alert entered a partnership with Walmart in 2016 to test Alphabot, and the companies began working together on a deployment of the system at a store in Salem, New Hampshire, in 2019. But in a sign of the competition heating up in the MFC space, Walmart said in January that it would also test configurations from Alert competitors Dematic and Fabric as it examines ways to automate its operations.
Alert's competitors also include Ocado, Takeoff Technologies and AutoStore, all of which have struck deals to deploy their technology with major retailers.
Morgan became Alert's COO last year after serving as executive vice president and chief technology office of Deka Research & Development, where he headed a team of 800 engineers. In hiring Morgan for the COO's post, Lert praised his "extensive experience in bringing complex and highly innovative technology products to market."
Morgan's naming as CEO of Alert follows the company's announcement in October that it was bringing on new vice presidents of software engineering and people operations along with a new senior director of marketing. In July, the company named Doug Straton, chief digital officer at The Hershey Company, to its Retail Advisory Council.
Alert also created an online glossary of e-commerce terms as it looks to assert leadership in the MFC industry.
In his new role as executive chairman of Alert, Lert will lead the company's board of directors and focus on "invention and product innovation," according to the announcement. He will also also speak publicly about the changes automation technology is bringing to the retail industry, the company said.