July 12, 2021
Berkshire Grey, which develops artificial intelligence-enabled robotic solutions to help automate supply chains, has announced securing more than $23 million in a multiphase order with a global retailer for online same-day grocery fulfillment. The company’s Intelligent Enterprise Robotics (IER) solutions will robotically pick grocery items from inventory and pack them into customer bags to fill orders that are placed online and via mobile apps. The company declined to name the name of the retailer in the agreement.
Berkshire Grey said its robotic solutions can operate back-of-store, putting the operation closer to current shoppers for rapid pickup and delivery, and in larger dedicated fulfillment and distribution centers. The solutions also support order-online-pickup-in-store, order-online-deliver-by-store, and other models in the grocery and convenience segments. The company said back-of-store automation enables store employees to continue to provide high-quality service to traditional store customers, even while the store supports the new online order streams.
“The grocery industry is challenged to rethink the future of their supply chains to better meet customer needs, especially as digital grocery buying becomes more habitual than trial,” said Kevin Prouty, a vice president at IDC. “Grocery, convenience, and food distribution companies must increase operational agility needed to meet continuously changing end customers’ needs. By implementing robotic automation into their operations, companies can get a leg up against their competitors. Companies like Berkshire Grey can potentially transform the retail supply chain to meet the increasing pressure to better align operations with customer demands.”
Pete Allen, general manager of grocery and convenience at Berkshire Grey, said ordering groceries during COVID-19 became a habit for many people. “Driven by this and the convenience of online ordering, our customers need rapid fulfillment of online orders done in an efficient way to meet a range of customer demands – at the same time our customers need to ensure that the right goods are always on the right shelves at the right times in the store,” said Allen. “Berkshire Grey’s IER grocery picking solutions provide the grocery industry with the speed and scalability that customers demand while positioning grocers to boost margins and capitalize on the continued changes in the market.”
Berkshire Grey said its systems can handle a broad range of items, supporting conventional grocery items such as produce and cereal, as well as convenience items such as snacks, soda, and toiletries. The company said it offers several purchase options for customers, including a robots-as-a-service (RaaS) model, which lets customers implement their technology without large, upfront capital expenditures.
Rapid growth announced
The company also made a series of announcements touting its rapid growth in the enterprise robotics sector. For the first half of 2021, Berkshire Grey has:
- Contracted for about 94% of its forecasted 2021 revenue;
- Increased total orders to $148 million, up from $114 million as of Dec. 31, 2020, driven by growth in orders in the grocery and parcels verticals;
- Increased its backlog to $95 million, up from $70 million at the end of 2020;
- Previously disclosed revenue guidance of $59 million for 2021 is unchanged;
- Signed four new partnerships as part of its go-to-market strategy;
- Increased global headcount to approximately 350 employees.
“We continue to see strong interest in our IER solutions for eCommerce, retail, grocery, 3PL [third-party logistics], and package-handling logistics, which has driven an increase in our backlog,” said Tom Wagner, CEO of Berkshire Grey. “Consumer shopping behaviors have fundamentally changed due to the growth of online shopping and the proverbial Amazon effect. As such, companies in these industries are adapting their underlying supply chain and logistics operations to align with today’s consumer expectations, contribute to top-line growth, and improve operational efficiencies. We are privileged to be able to help such companies with our technologies and our service.”
For more details on the new systems, visit the Berkshire Grey website. Earlier this year, the company entered into a definitive agreement with Revolution Acceleration Acquisition Corp (RAAC), which is expected to result in Berkshire Grey becoming a publicly listed company early in Q3 2021, subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions.