- Stop & Shop is the first grocer on the East Coast to install The Mini Bakery, or "Breadbot," in one of its stores, the company announced in a press release.
- Stop & Shop has introduced The Breadbot at its Milford, Massachusetts location and has plans to install additional machines at other stores in the region. The Mini Bakery, manufactured by Wilkinson Baking Company, can mix, form, proof, bake and cool 10 loaves of artisanal bread at once.
- The bread comes in flavors including white, wheat, whole wheat, sourdough, nine grain and honey oat. The bread is free from artificial preservatives since it is made and sold in the same day. The bread will sell for $3.99 a loaf.
Amid all the hype over robots and in-store technology, the Breadbot is a novel concept for Stop & Shop that promises to attract customers to the store. The machine will also help Stop & Shop keep up with bakery demand and offer high-quality, fresh-made products.
Sales for baked goods surpassed $59 billion in 2018, according to FMI's Power of Bakery report and bread was a top seller with $8.5 billon in sales. Not only are consumers buying more freshly baked goods, but they are one of the biggest draws for in-store shopping trips. This is important for Stop & Shop as it continues to update its stores and pushes to get consumers in the door.
Stop & Shop is in the beginning stages of chain-wide remodeling effort, and has rolled out in-store smokers, electronic kiosks and a variety of foodservice concepts. It has also embraced automation as a way to save money and engage customers. The chain is working with startup Robomart to put its self-driving mini grocers on the streets of Boston. It's also piloting micro-fulfillment technology with Takeoff Technologies in order to make online order fulfillment faster and less expensive, and plans to roll out several more facilities in addition to the one it currently operates.
In terms of in-store automation, Stop & Shop has deployed Marty the Robot to monitor shelf-level performance. The technology promises to reduce costly out-of-stocks and other expenses, but reports note customers have expressed some discomfort with the googly-eyed robot.
Automation will continue to be a hot-button issue while retailers will continue to test out technology and its impact on consumers as well as employees. If the Breadbot's reception at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year is any indication, the machine will delight consumers rather than frighten them.