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How Estonian grocers are using robots for contactless click-and-collect during the pandemic

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Shoppers in Estonia are now using robots to take contactless delivery of their grocery orders as online orders surge during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Coop Estonia, Prima Peremarket and Selver, all in the Estonian capital of Tallinn, are among the first grocers to use a new robotic grocery solution to hand over online orders with no human-to-human contact. Customers place their order online, choosing a pick-up time as they do so. They are then sent an order code that they use to pick up their order from the  standalone Cleveron 501 robotic solution, located in Tallinn car parks. When the customer puts in their code, the grocery robot presents their shopping, which customers can then load directly into their cars. Both perishables and frozen goods can be stored in the units, which have two temperature zones. 

The new units have been introduced as a direct result of the coronavirus outbreak. Cleveron chief executive Arno Kütt said: “We’ve always felt that ecommerce and online grocery shopping is the future and that is why we created our grocery robot. The crisis brought the future to us sooner. We had a product, which was just what the grocers needed, and so we approached the Estonian grocery chains with an offer.”

The company says it’s now seeing a spike in interest for its automated click and collect products, especially in the grocery sector. The grocery robot is also being tested in the UK, US and Denmark. 

“Usually,” said Kütt, “negotiations take months. With Coop, Selver and Prisma, the robot was up and running within two weeks of the first call. Our supermarkets place great value on the customer experience and wanted to act fast to provide it.”

Coop Estonia was the first to deploy the Cleveron 501 (pictured). Its development director Asko Pukk said: “Stores are becoming smarter and the grocery robot can change the grocery game significantly in the near future. Just think about it – several thousand items available for you to pick up from a solution taking up only 25 m2. And the goods are stored in perfect condition both in the winter and summer. It is an ideal solution for overpopulated areas where there is not enough space, but also in rural areas which otherwise would not have such a selection available.”

Estonian technology company Cleveron has been creating automated click and collect solutions for more than 10 years. Its Cleveron 401, also known as the Walmart Pickup Tower, is its best-known solution. 

Image courtesy of Cleveron

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