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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
3D robot
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 1D shuttle is 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 (ASRS) is a generic term for a system that automatically stores items in a repository and can also retrieve them. It is a type 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.
An autonomous mobile robot (AMR) is a robot that can move without human oversight. They can travel in X and Y paths and freely along a warehouse floor with safeguards for potentially interacting with human traffic. They are often built with cameras and sensors to help them navigate and don’t require wired power.
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 automated storage and retrieval systems or hive systems are densely packed automated tote storage systems. These systems use interlocking bins stacked inside an aluminum grid or cube with no space for aisles. A fleet of robots drive across tracks on top of the grid and work together to move bins out of the system and deliver to operator ports.
Each picking is an order picking process of picking an individual item from a master carton. It may also known as piece picking or split-case picking.
Eaches is a retail supply chain term used for individual items versus a full case. For example, one box of cereal versus a case of cereal.
Goods to Person is used to describe a traditional method of filling orders that delivers product to an order picker or customer at a retail pick-up location. This can also be referred to as a “goods-to-picker” system.
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 compact, modular warehouse built within, or added to, a store. This term was used by Walmart, but was replaced with “market fulfillment center”. Others may use micro-fulfillment center (MFC) 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.
A micro fulfillment center or MFC is an automated fulfillment center used by ecommerce businesses to store their inventory closer to the end consumer. Their structure size typically ranges 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 retail store, or placed in a smaller warehouse space in an urban location.
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.