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Rewe reacts to online grocery challenge

Germany's second-largest food retailer is taking the fight to Amazon with a brand new fulfilment centre in Cologne

Rewe reacts to online grocery challenge

Rewe's new food delivery centre will use automated product picking technology to speed up the fulfilment process

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Retail giant Rewe Group says it is pressing ahead with plans to expand its fresh food delivery service in Germany with the construction of a unique centre in Cologne for the fulfilment of online orders.

Described as a ‘Food Fulfilment Center 2.0’, the new facility occupies a site the size of two and a half football pitches and is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

It will be packed with state-of-the-art, automated technology that promises to bring Rewe up to speed as far as competing with the likes of Amazon.

Around 20,000 different products including fresh fruit and vegetables will be stored at the centre and, unlike previous distribution centres, those items will be moved automatically instead of by hand.

“Previously, employees had to walk 12-15km per shift to complete orders,” explained Christoph Eltze, chief executive of Rewe Digital. “In the new FFC 2.0, it’s the other way round: here, the products come to the order picker simply and conveniently via automated shuttle technology.”

By next summer, its capacity to streamline the grocery delivery business will begin to make a material contribution to Rewe’s retail operation.

According to Jan Kunath, the deputy chairman of Rewe Group’s executive board who also heads up its digital business, the important thing will be to demonstrate that the same kind of freshness found in stores can also be guaranteed in the home delivery market.

“Fresh food is a matter of trust for our customers,” he commented. “Freshness and quality play a key role for Rewe customers both on and offline. Especially with online orders, it is also about service and attractive offers, suitable delivery time-frames and efficient processes.”

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