E-commerce innovation

H-E-B adds mini-warehouse in Austin suburb for curbside and delivery

H-E-B adds mini-warehouse in Austin suburb for curbside and delivery

H-E-B Leander
H-E-B celebrated the Leander facility’s grand opening by making multiple gifts to area nonprofits. Courtesy of H-E-B

H-E-B recently opened an e-commerce fulfillment center in Leander that’s expected to employ more than 150 people.

The 50,000-square-foot facility, at 651 U.S. Highway 183 North, will support H-E-B curbside and home delivery orders throughout Central Texas. The facility, also known as a micro-fulfillment center, is at Leander’s H-E-B Plus! store.

To support the rising demand for online shopping, the Leander micro-fulfillment center stocks in-store goods that are designated for curbside and home delivery orders. H-E-B says its e-commerce fulfillment centers “allow for more capacity, greater efficiency, less aisle congestion for the in-store shopper, and better product availability.”

H-E-B continues to fill full-time and part-time positions at the Leander fulfillment center. To hire staff for the Leander facility, the San Antonio-based grocery chain will host a virtual career fair with on-the-spot interviews from 9:30 am-12:30 pm on Wednesday, July 27.

The Leander facility is among several micro-fulfillment centers that H-E-B has opened across the company. A tech company called Swisslog is providing automation software and equipment for the H-E-B facilities.

“Micro-fulfillment technology automates picking and packing, using robotic systems to efficiently locate and retrieve products stored in a space too compact for human workers,” Chain Store Age reported in 2020.

Food Logistics further explains that a micro-fulfillment center tends to occupy 2,000 to 50,000 square feet, rather than the sometimes hundreds of thousands of square feet taken up by a traditional distribution warehouse.

Micro-fulfillment offers grocers a competitive edge, according to Progressive Grocer.

“As retailers have found themselves competing with Amazon’s enviable two-hour delivery offer, and after going through [the] transition to survival mode during the outbreak of COVID-19, their search for the fastest, most efficient way to fulfill online orders has become a top supply chain priority — and, in some cases, a competitive advantage,” Progressive Grocer says.