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Accelerating the grocery pickup experience with Google Maps Platform

Editor’s note: Today's guest post comes from Craig Hutler, Digital Product Manager, Kroger. To better serve its customers, Kroger began working with Google Maps Platform to create the On My Way initiative, a process to streamline the curbside pickup experience and put food into customers’ hands faster.

With an increase in customer demand for pickup, Kroger is constantly striving to increase capacity and shorten wait times for their customers. By using Google Maps Platform to help power their On My Way initiative, they are able to implement process efficiencies and help lower their cost-to-serve.

Improving the customer experience

When Kroger initially launched the On My Way initiative, they reduced customer wait times and improved their cost-to-serve, a key metric that measures their ability to serve customers more efficiently. It began as a simple button in the Kroger app. When customers were ready to pick up their groceries, they could tap the button to signal their estimated time of arrival (ETA) to their local store.

In the first iteration, Kroger relied on our customers to notify them by hitting the button when they were 15 minutes away, and their ETA would show up on a dashboard in-store. Then their associates would prepare the already-picked order. They realized that they were relying on their customers for accuracy, which meant they could actually be five minutes away (not the requested 15) when their associates were alerted. That meant that when the customer arrived, their groceries wouldn’t be ready.

To help solve for this, Kroger knew they wanted to use a map that their shoppers are familiar with. They initially ran a pilot for shoppers to place pickup orders through the Google Maps app. While some shoppers liked the experience, it was hard to reach the majority of their customers.

Fulfilling orders faster

Kroger realized that to give customers the easiest, fastest pickup experience, they needed an integrated map within the Kroger app that allowed for a seamless shopping journey, from order through pickup. And Google Maps Platform delivered.

Now, they have an enhanced version of the pickup experience called Geo On My Way, which uses the Maps SDK for Android and Directions API. Without having to leave the Kroger app, customers can voluntarily send their device location directly to their local store at the touch of a button, giving associates an accurate ETA based on route and traffic. Ultimately, this helps optimize Kroger’s in-store operations, reduce customer wait times, increase customer satisfaction, and deliver on their cost-to-serve metric.

Since implementing Directions API, Kroger reduced their median ETA error by almost half for users who opt in to give them location permissions and engage with Geo On My Way. It also took a full minute off the time the customers waited for their groceries to be loaded into their vehicles. This functionality is now successfully deployed across every pickup location, helping Kroger meet the needs of their customers everywhere.

Future-proofing pickup experiences

Geo On My Way has improved significantly since its early days, and Kroger is still iterating and optimizing to continue reducing ETA errors. In the future, they plan to use geofencing to help them gauge when customers, who have opted in to share their location with them, enter the parking lot. This should provide even more meaningful insights to their associates and improve the customer experience.

Kroger has always been about providing positive, uplifting experiences. With Geo On My Way, they’ve been able to hone in on the last mile for their customers. This initiative is about more than data and metrics. It’s about helping millions of daily customers have easy access to food, and closing the gap between Kroger’s doors and their customers’ tables.

How 28East Can Help You

Our map-powered applications and location intelligence can help retail stores efficiently implement curbside pickup services, ensuring a seamless and convenient experience for both the store and its customers.

If you're interested in learning more about 28East's map-powered applications and location intelligence solutions, or if you would like to discuss how we can help your business implement curbside pickup services, don't hesitate to contact us. Our experts are always available to answer your questions and help you find the right solution for your business.

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