- Grocery micro-fulfillment technology developer Alert Innovation has named John Gargasz, a technology and real estate entrepreneur, as vice president of platform and business development, the company announced.
- Gargasz will be in charge of sales, marketing, product roadmap and partnership development and report to John Lert, the company’s CEO and founder.
- Alert is bolstering its executive team as the grocery industry concludes a year of blockbuster e-commerce sales that taxed retailers’ fulfillment capabilities and underscored their need to improve their ability to fill online orders.
Alert’s decision to hire Gargasz is part of its efforts to broaden its role as a supplier of micro-fulfillment equipment at a time when retailers are ripe for pitches about ways to make their pickup and delivery operations more efficient.
In particular, the Massachusetts-based company is looking to market its automated picking technology, known as Alphabot, to retailers other than Walmart, for which Alert's technology is in use at a 20,000-square-foot automated grocery fulfillment center at a store in Salem, New Hampshire. The facility uses autonomous carts to transport shelf-stable, refrigerated and frozen items to workstations where human workers pack them for customers.
Alert’s technology competes with systems from other automated fulfillment firms angling for retailer contracts. Those rivals include Ocado, the U.K.-based robotics company that is working with Kroger on a fleet of automated warehouses across the United States that are due to start operation early next year, and AutoStore, a Norwegian automation company that is building micro-fulfillment centers for H-E-B.
Alert hopes to make its mark by positioning its technology as easy to adapt for small-scale operations despite its ability to function in a high-volume retail setting, Lert said earlier this year.
Gargasz, who is trained as a mechanical engineer, is a founder of 10X Venture Partners, which makes early-stage investments in technology companies, according to his LinkedIn profile. He also is managing partner at a real estate firm, worked for government contractor SoneSys and served as chief operating officer for Nanocomp Technologies, which makes materials defined by their strength, light weight and high levels of conductivity.
Alert is exploring ways to move beyond Walmart in the wake of the retailer’s recent decision to stop using robots from Bossa Nova Robotics to track inventory in some of its stores. That move abruptly halted a project that had been expected to bring the technology to 1,000 Walmart stores and prompted Bossa Nova to reportedly lay off half of its employees, underscoring the risks technology companies face when they depend on partnerships with large retailers to fuel their growth.