The direct-to-consumer shipping trend has gone cold – as in ice cream cold. Robomart, the on-demand retail store that sends a vehicle filled with items directly to the consumer, announced a partnership with Unilever to deliver that company’s famous ice cream brands, including Ben & Jerry’s and Breyers.
Robomart vehicles will deliver ice cream products under Unilever’s The Ice Cream Shop virtual brand name. The delivery products will include the aforementioned brands as well as Good Humor, Magnum ice cream and Talenti.
The Ice Cream Shop offers home delivery through Uber Eats, Postmates, DoorDash and Grubhub as well. The companies did not specify in what regions the Robomart deliveries will be available, noting only that they will launch this summer.
“We’re excited to work with Unilever – the world’s largest ice cream maker – to pilot The Ice Cream Shop as one of the flagship storefronts on our new marketplace,” said Ali Ahmed, Robomart CEO and co-founder. “Putting a spin on the classic ice cream truck by bringing it to consumers on demand, we have pioneered a new way for everyone to get their favorite ice cream treats in as little as two minutes. This rollout brings to life the original vision my co-founder and I had over a decade ago while working at Unilever to create ‘The Everywhere Store’ – the fastest and most accessible way to get all your essentials.”
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Robomart began testing in 2020 with drivers. Ultimately, the idea is to offer an on-demand ride-hailing retail service via driverless vehicles. The company launched with a small fleet of Snacks and Pharmacy Robomarts in West Hollywood, California. An average order takes about nine minutes and the average user places 2.3 orders per week, Ahmed previously told Modern Shipper.
Customers simply use the Robomart app to request the vehicle and they are alerted when the vehicle arrives at their location. The entire shopping experience is checkout-free; Robomart uses RFID technology to track what users take, sending them a digital receipt and charging their credit or debit cards after they finish shopping.
Ironically, the partnership with Unilever takes Ahmed and his co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer Emad Rahim back to their roots. The pair first met and conceived the idea for Robomart in 2008 while working together at Unilever, where Rahim worked in the company’s ice cream division.
“We’re thrilled to partner with Robomart to offer a new way to bring our virtual store, The Ice Cream Shop, to fans in Los Angeles in an innovative way,” said Russel Lilly, general manager of Unilever North American Ice Cream. “Our pilot program with Robomart is revolutionizing ice cream delivery for consumers and making it even faster to get our beloved brands to our ice cream fans.”
Robomart said it is experiencing 9% user growth and 10% order growth per week.