Robotics startup Fulfil Solutions has announced it has received $60 million in Series B financing for its fully automated pick and pack grocery solution.
Fulfil’s delivery robots are said to accurately pick all categories of groceries including refrigerated and frozen goods. They then bring packed grocery bags to a waiting area where drivers collect them for delivery.
The financing from Eclipse, Khosla Ventures and DCVC follows the opening of Fulfil’s first automated dark store, or micro-fulfillment warehouse, in San Francisco, in partnership with The Save Mart Companies, to power a same-day grocery delivery and pick-up service called Lucky Now.
Within the warehouse, Fulfil’s proprietary dispense stations handle grocery items with sensor fusion algorithms to confirm that every item is packed successfully.
Its mobile robots split and sequence items to prevent damage and minimise pack time, while the dispense stations redistribute the inventory to balance load. As part of its real-time inventory management, a database also tracks every item’s location, origin and expiration to ensure more accurate orders and less waste.
“To address the many challenges facing online grocery, retailers must adopt efficient automation that substantially reduces costs and provides the accuracy, quality and convenience customers expect,” said Fulfil CEO and President Mir Aamir in a statement.
He added, “That’s why our fully automated solution represents such a revolutionary step forward. Not only does it make online grocery retailing profitable while meeting customer expectations, but it also prioritises social and environmental responsibility by cutting carbon emissions, eliminating food waste and enabling healthier food to reach more households at lower cost.”
Although grocery e-commerce has soared in popularity since the pandemic and is expected to see annual sales double to $200 billion in the US alone by 2027, the cost to manually fulfill online grocery orders often results in a loss even before delivery costs are factored in.
In addition to increased expenses for customers and regular product substitutions, inefficient inventory management in grocery stores is a key reason a third of food is wasted globally. As a result, carbon emissions from food waste is nearly equal to that of all road transportation, combined, according to the United Nations.
“Today’s online grocery business is built on manual, wasteful and expensive processes. Mir and the team at Fulfil have successfully developed a highly differentiated, full-stack solution to automate the $1 trillion grocery industry by automating all picking and packing,” Jay Knafel, Early Growth Partner at Eclipse added.