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It’s a big play against Amazon, the king of automated fulfillment centers, which is trying to become a major player in grocery deliveries via its Whole Foods buy — and also against Kroger’s more traditional rival, Walmart, which is trying to get better at this online thing.
But what is Ocado, the company whose share price has popped by more than 60 percent as a result of the Kroger deal?
Ocado started business in the U.K. around the turn of the millennium as an online grocery store — unusual at the time. A couple years later, it became best known as the online delivery partner for the posh British supermarket chain Waitrose.
Over time, Ocado put more and more emphasis on its technology capabilities, and how it could integrate its methods into its automated warehouses and the apps that it designs for retailers. This isn’t merely about robotics — Ocado has also invested significantly in machine-learning techniques (popularly known as artificial intelligence) and the 4G-based communications technology that lets Ocado’s robots communicate among themselves at high speed.
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