News • 09.05.2023

Robots say hello and deliver groceries quickly

S Group and Starship Technologies launch robot deliveries in seven cooperative regions in Finland

S-kaupat, the online grocery store of leading Finnish retail operator S Group, will start express deliveries with emission-free delivery robots in phases during the spring and summer, in partnership with Starship Technologies, the world’s leading developer and manufacturer of autonomous delivery robots. Rapid robot deliveries are part of the S Group’s forward-looking food e-commerce development work, which is based on customers’ wishes.

A person takes a pizza and a drink from a self-driving robot...
Source: Starship Technologies

Robot deliveries are a response to the desire of customers, especially in urban areas, to have their groceries delivered quickly to their homes. On average, the robots deliver the goods to the customer within an hour from the order. The deliveries are available in the S-kaupat app, which can be downloaded for free from the App Store and Google Play Store.

In the first phase, the robot deliveries will start in the HOK-Elanto area, where the robots were successfully piloted last spring. In the next phase, over the summer, the service will open across seven locations including Tampere, Turku, Pori, Rauma, Jyväskylä and Oulu. The goal is to make robot delivery available to customers even more widely in the future.

“Demand for fast delivery is growing strongly and this is also reflected in our future plans. With Starship’s robot technology, we can offer our customers fast and reliable delivery of their purchases across Finland, and in a rather delightful way,” says CDO Jarkko Kyttänen, S Group Retail.

Autonomous and emission-free robots are the delivery mode of the future

S Group partners with Starship Technologies, the world’s leading developer of autonomous delivery robots. Starship’s robots use artificial intelligence (AI) and GPS positioning to plan their routes. The robot knows all the details of its environment and routes, including road crossings, and AI learns more about the environment all the time. Starship robots make more than 140 000 street crossings every day around the world.

The robot works autonomously, but humans can monitor and take control if needed, although 99% of the time, the robots are travelling on their own. The robot has 12 cameras, ultrasonic sensors, and radars. It takes advantage of computer vision, as well as technology that detects various obstacles. The robots stop quickly if an obstacle is detected.

The battery-powered robots have completed over 4 million deliveries globally, reducing traffic congestion and CO2 emissions in towns and cities. The robots have been operating at L4 autonomy since 2018, and Starship’s fleet of over 2000 robots make thousands of daily deliveries autonomously in more than 50 service areas around the world.

“We’re thrilled to expand our partnership with S Group to multiple locations across Finland! Our successful partnership in Espoo last year showed the tremendous demand for robot deliveries among Finns. We’re confident that communities all over the country will also embrace our innovative service, making delivery services an essential part of everyday life. Finland is our ‘home market’, with our R&D center in Helsinki driving the design and development of our robots,” says Alastair Westgarth, CEO of Starship Technologies.

A self-driving robot drives on a pavement
Source: Starship Technologies

S-kaupat is the most popular online grocery store

The S-Ryhmä’s grocery sales online have developed significantly over the past couple of years. At the beginning of 2022, the S-Kaupat service was launched, which is continuously developed by the e-commerce business, technology and design experts based on customer feedback and wishes.

The online food shop is available at s-kaupat.fi and in the s-kaupat app. Tens of thousands of customers already regularly shop for food online through the S-kaupat service. Ordering large weekly purchases is particularly popular with families. Fast express deliveries are particularly useful for replenishment and impulse purchases. Over the past year, customer satisfaction with the service has almost doubled.

“The online shopping has clearly established itself among its customer-owners. The CSAT score for customer satisfaction is currently 79 and we are particularly pleased that there is hardly any negative feedback,” says Kyttänen.

The growing popularity of the S-Kaupat service is also reflected in the emergence of the S-Ryhmä’s online grocery store back as the market leader.

“In the online grocery shop, we are looking to the long term. We are investing in customer focus, profitable growth, service reliability and speed through automation and robot technology,” says Kyttänen.

A lot will happen in the field of automation in the coming years: the retail group’s first automated grocery shopping warehouses will start operating in 2024 in the HOK-Elanto and Pirkanmaan Osuuskauppa.

Source: Starship Technologies

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