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Industry terms definedDemystifying e-Grocery technology

The next paradigm in food retailing is here. These are the terms you need to know in order to understand this breakthrough technology.

3D Robot
Your e-Grocery Labor Force
Self-Service Order Pickup
Micro Fulfillment Center
Profitable e-Grocery


Defining industry terms to educate and inform the growing industry of automated grocery fulfillment.


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Fire Suppression

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Micro Fulfillment Center (MFC)

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Supply Chain

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These key terms are essential to understanding e-Grocery technology

A mobile robot that can travel in one horizontal dimension.
A 2D shuttle is mobile robot that can travel in both horizontal dimensions, but not vertically.
A 3D robot is a mobile robot that can travel in three dimensions, the two horizontal dimensions and vertically.
Automated customer order dispense is another term for a drive up window where an order is automatically presented to a customer or delivery service driver.
Automated picking storage and dispense is an automated system that contains product inventory so that customer orders can be picked into order totes. It also stores completed orders and, at the appropriate time, dispenses those orders for either customer pickup at store or delivery to home.
An automated storage and retrieval system is a generic term for a system that automatically stores items in a repository and can also retrieve them. It is a type or genre of warehouse automation technology.
Automated storage and dispense is an automated system that typically stores completed orders and then, at the appropriate time, dispenses those orders for either customer pickup or delivery.
The definition of an Autonomous Mobile Robot (AMR) is a robot that travels in X and Y horizontally but not vertically and travels freely along the warehouse floor with safeguards for potentially interacting with human traffic. It is generally fitted with attachments to facilitate single, multi or batch order picking for both goods-to-person and person-to-goods picking. It moves through its environment without being supervised directly by an operator or limited to a fixed path.
Buy online pick-up in store a customer places order online, but drives to store to pick up the order versus home delivery.
Click and collect is placing an order online (‘click’) and driving to the store to collect the order.
Cube or Hive systems are densely packed automated tote storage systems. They have the theoretical highest density of product per square foot of building but not necessarily highest pick rate or order throughput. They are not well suited for efficiently handling orders that combine high velocity and slow moving items.
The process of picking an individual item.
Eaches is a term used for individual items versus a full case. Fore example, one box of cereal versus a case of cereal.
Goods to person is used to describe a system that delivers product to an order picker or customer at a retail pick-up location.
Last mile delivery is defined as the very last step of the delivery process when a parcel is moved from a transportation hub or warehouse to its final destination, usually a personal residence or retail store.
Latency is the time between when an order is submitted and when it is ready for pick up or delivery. This is especially relevant as customer expectations move from placing an order the day before picking it up to same day (1-2 hr) pick up or delivery. This is a forecasting and inventory management challenge. Make sure the solution fits the real-world!
A local fulfillment center is a Walmart term, others may use MFC (micro-fulfillment center) as an analogous term. It includes an automated replenishment system to provide automated picking of orders, storage and dispense at the store level.
A market distribution center (MDC) is a geographically local distribution center (DC) that is part of the Novastore architecture. The MDC sits between the distribution center and store. The MDC serves many stores in a region and provides less than case level replenishment in tote/subtotes to stores in that area. The key advantage of the MDC is more efficient replenishment of stores than traditional case-level replenishment.
A micro fulfillment center (MFC) is an automated fulfillment center, with footprints typically ranging from 10,000 to 20,000 square feet, with some as small as 5,000 square feet. MFCs can be co-housed inside an existing store or placed in a smaller warehouse space in an urban location. Micro fulfillment centers help reduce transportation costs and enable shorter delivery times because they are located closer to customers.
Novastore is an Alert Innovation term for a store architecture and associated supply chain logistics. The strict definition for Novastore is as follows: a supermarket with an automated packaged-goods market (a.k.a. “center store”) and an optional self-service fresh-goods market (a.k.a. “perimeter departments”). It automates the center store and allows the grocer to focus on customer experience with produce, meat, dairy, bakery, cafe, etc. A key component of the Novastore architecture is each level replenishment in sub-totes from a Market Distribution Center (MDC) to the store.