Giant Eagle is preparing to open its first automated micro-fulfillment center at a site in Pittsburgh, according to job listings on the East Coast supermarket chain’s website.
The grocer will use the MFC, which will stock center store goods as well as chilled and frozen items, to fulfill curbside pickup orders. Giant Eagle is actively recruiting for several roles involved with operating the MFC and plans to host an open house at the facility on Jan. 24.
The facility will be located at 1775 South Braddock Ave. and use a tote-based system to move products, according to the announcement about the hiring event.
A Giant Eagle spokesperson confirmed that the retailer is looking for workers for the MFC but declined to provide details about the facility. “While we are in the process of hiring for this location, it is still a little bit early for us to share additional detail about the space,” the spokesperson said in an emailed response to questions sent by Grocery Dive.
Giant Eagle is preparing to bring its first MFC online in the wake of the company’s decision last year to oust its longtime CEO, Laura Shapira Karet, who had a reputation for championing tech-focused projects. Karet was replaced as chief executive by Bill Artman, another veteran Giant Eagle executive.
Under Karet’s leadership, Giant Eagle rolled out checkout-free shopping technology from Grabango at several of its GetGo Cafe+Market convenience stores.
Giant Eagle’s move to deploy micro-fulfillment technology to handle e-commerce orders follows Hy-Vee’s announcement last fall that it would bring MFCs to several markets. Hy-Vee is working with MFC vendor Takeoff Technologies, which also has deals with grocers including Albertsons and Wakefern Foods, to install the automated facilities.
While food retailers have been slow to adopt MFCs,Takeoff President Mitchell “Mitch” Freeman said in an interview when the company disclosed its deal with Hy-Vee that grocers remained interested in the technology. “We’re still very, very strong believers that this is going to be a very important part of a grocer’s portfolio in the medium term and long term,” Freeman said.