How Will Product Managers Make Driverless Grocery Delivery A Success?

Driverless grocery deliveries may be coming sooner than you think
Driverless grocery deliveries may be coming sooner than you think
Image Credit: Andrew Hitchcock Follow

Let’s face it, today when you see a car on the road you expect to see a person sitting behind the wheel. However, if some very smart product managers have their way, in the future you might be seeing driverless cars whizzing around. This is all brand new stuff, but there have been a number of very large investments being made in companies that make robotic delivery vehicles that are driverless. Will their product managers be able to solve all of the challenges that will be coming with this new technology?

Groceries That Come To You

So if you were a product manager who was working for a company that wanted to find a way to get groceries to customers using robotic vehicles, how would you go about doing that? A lot of different companies have popped up in the past few years and a number of them have come up with creative ways to solve this problem. Their solutions have included both robot taxis and long-haul trucking. However, over at a different startup, Nuro their product managers are taking a different path in creating their product development definition. They have decided to go ahead and create their own electric vehicles. These vehicles are going to be specially made for in-town deliveries.

The vehicle that Nuro plans on building is not going to be like the car that you currently drive. It’s going to end up being roughly half as wide as a typical compact sedan. It will also be shorter than most compact cars. The delivery system that they are planning on building will have no side windows or room inside for people to sit. The vehicle’s two side doors will open to reveal two special compartments that can be used to carry groceries and other items. The Nuro vehicle can navigate the roads using software that Nuro has developed along with sensors and lasers.

The company has already built six of these types of vehicles. It has received more funding and so that funding is going to be used to build more vehicles in its fleet. The company also plans on testing its software and hardware using standard cars. The testing will be done on roads in California, Texas, and Arizona. They will be testing 50 of these cars with safety operators behind the wheel.

The Challenges Of Driverless Grocery Delivery

So the idea sounds interesting, but just exactly how are product managers supposed to get a novel concept like this off the ground? The answer is partnerships. Kroger, the largest grocery store in the U.S. by both sales and stores has agreed to enter into a partnership with Nuro. Striking this kind of partnership could look very good on your product manager resume. What this means is that Nuro can work with Kroger to test a driverless delivery service. The plan is to test the service in Scottsdale Arizona. Nuro will charge customers US$5.95 per delivery of groceries. This could get interesting because a recent survey of consumers revealed that a third of them reported that they don’t do more grocery shopping online because of the costs including delivery charges.

So what are the Nuro product managers really trying to do? They are looking for a way to distinguish their product offering in an increasingly crowded market. The Nuro product managers want to find ways to make deliveries cheaper. The company’s focus for right now is on suburban areas where the traffic is less complex than in dense urban environments. The target customers that Nuro wants to go after already own a car and use it to commute around town. This business approach has made Nuro attractive to companies that are willing to invest in firms that are trying to upend the more traditional world of personal transportation.

This is not going to be an easy task for the Nuro product managers. They know that they are up against some tough competition. Nuro is going to have to find a way to scale their new technology while their competitors, who have more money than Nuro does, do the same. Nuro’s competition is in the process of growing an infrastructure that will be required to initially manage fleets of test cars and then later on commercially deployed vehicles. Nuro has been keeping a low profile, but they have been able to attract talent that was formally part of Google’s self-driving car program. Nuro thinks that they can pull off their success with two hundred employees and one hundred contract workers.

What All Of This Means For You

I really don’t think that there are very many people who like to go grocery shopping. What this means is that there is a potentially a very large market for anyone who can figure out how to make it so that we no longer have to do this. The good news is that over at Nuro, their product managers have taken a look at their product manager job description and risen to this challenge. They are in the process of trying to create a driverless car that will bring our groceries to us.

There are a number of different startup companies that are trying to solve the problem of how to get groceries to customers so that they don’t have to go to the store. Nuro’s approach is going to be to build small electric cars. These cars will have no windows and will have internal compartments that can be used to carry groceries to customers. The cars will drive themselves using Nuro developed software along with sensors and lasers. The company hopes to use the money that has been invested in them to start to produce their cars at scale. Nuro has partnered with the grocery chain Kroger to start a delivery experiment in Scottsdale Arizona. Nuro wants to roll out their service in suburban areas where the density is lower than in major cities. The Nuro product managers are going to be up against some tough competition because other firms are going to be working to build an infrastructure to support a fleet of self-driving cars. Nuro has the right people, now they just have to make it happen.

It can be hard to imagine a future in which we no longer have to go grocery shopping. All we’ll have to do is make sure that we’re home when the self-driving car shows up with what we’ve ordered. The Nuro product managers have a tough task ahead of them: what they are trying to do has never been done before. However, they have a lot of funding and they have been able to get an important partner that they can use to roll out a trial version of their service. Now they just need to make sure that their customers view the service that they are delivering as being worth how much it is going to cost them.

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Product Management Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that Nuro could get Kroger to cover the cost of delivering groceries so that it would be free for customers?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

What a wonderful time we are living in! With the arrival of the internet, all of sudden there is no longer a reason for any of us to have to go out to a restaurant any more. Instead, all we have to do is to bring up one of those online ordering applications, select what we want, and then greet the driver when they show up at our front door. What could be better? Unfortunately, what product managers are starting to discover is that the brave new world of unlimited food delivery comes with some downsides.