Kroger is working with on-demand shipping company Frayt to trial same-day delivery to consumers of home furnishings sold through by the food retailer at 21 Kroger Marketplace stores in Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio and Northern Kentucky, according to a press release. Frayt is considering expanding the service to other areas where Kroger Marketplace stores operate if the test is successful.
The supermarket company is working with Frayt to serve customers who purchase items like patio dining sets, grills and mulch at Kroger Marketplace stores, which carry a variety of nonfood products in addition to groceries. Frayt uses an online platform to link customers with a network of about 3,000 drivers and offers contactless delivery.
The partnership with Kroger represents a new direction for Frayt, which traditionally specializes in business-to-business delivery services. The company, which now links drivers with delivery customers using an online platform, said it has seen interest in its service surge 250% since adding consumer delivery to its operations.
Kroger wants to capitalize on furniture sales as consumers turn to outdoor dining season and as many stores that sell items like lawn chairs, tables and umbrellas remain closed because of the pandemic. The arrangement with Frayt also gives Kroger another tool to use as it competes with retailers like Target and Walmart beyond the grocery segment that is at the core of its business.
If the pilot proves successful, it could potentially scale to hundreds of additional locations. As of the fourth quarter of 2019, 183 stores in Kroger’s fleet of 2,757 were Marketplace locations, according to the company. The company also operates more than 100 Fred Meyer stores in the Northwest that carry sizable assortments of furniture and other general merchandise.
Bans on non-essential goods could stymy the expansion, however. Government officials in Vermont and Michigan, for example, have prevented retailers from selling non-essential items in an effort to keep people from browsing when they visit the supermarket.
Kroger is not alone in tapping its position as a grocer to help link customers with nonfood products as the outbreak unfolds. Last week, Hy-Vee announced that it has partnered with Designer Brands Inc., parent of DSW, to sell and deliver shoes to people who visit Hy-Vee’s website. The companies intend to eventually allow people to buy shoes online and pick them up in Hy-Vee stores, but haven’t announced when that service will begin. Hy-Vee will also sell shoes at DSW-branded shops in its supermarkets in the future.