Robomart, Unilever link up to reinvent the ice cream truck

Robomart, Unilever link up to reinvent the ice cream truck

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Dive Brief:

  • Store-hailing service Robomart has partnered with Unilever to roll out on-demand mobile markets stocked with ice cream in Los Angeles this summer, according to an emailed press release on Thursday.
  • The self-service shops on wheels, which will sport Unilever’s “The Ice Cream Shop” virtual storefront, will carry products under the CPG’s brands, including Ben & Jerry’s, Breyers, Good Humor, Magnum and Talenti.
  • The companies are “[p]utting a spin on the classic ice cream truck by bringing it to consumers on-demand,” Ali Ahmed, Robomart CEO and co-founder, said in the announcement, as entrepreneurs continue stoking consumer demand for speedy delivery of convenience and grocery items. 

Dive Insight:

Robomart says its model cuts out typical e-commerce steps that can be a hassle for customers, like building baskets, checking out, choosing a delivery window and communicating with delivery drivers. Now, it’s leveraging its convenience delivery model for ice cream brands backed by a massive CPG.

Through the store-hailing startup’s proprietary mobile app, customers can hail a Robomart vehicle stocked with products and then unlock the vehicle’s doors via the app to select products and pay for them with checkout-free technology.  

Founded in 2017, Santa Monica, California-based Robomart relies on varying configurations of its vehicles to allow for different product offerings. The company had previously rolled out mobile markets for “pharmacy” with medicine, toiletries, personal care and household goods and another for “snacks” with candies, cookies, chips and drinks in West Hollywood. Its website lists Robomart vehicles configured for “grocery” with fruits, vegetables, milk, dairy and bread and “cafe” with coffees, teas, drinks and doughnuts as “coming soon.”

Robomart’s co-founders already had ties to the British multinational consumer goods company. Ahmed joined Unilever in late 2007 and worked there as an assistant brand manager for about a year, while Emad Rahim, co-founder and chief strategy officer at Robomart, was an assistant brand manager for the company’s ice cream and frozen dessert brand Wall’s from 2006 to 2008, according to their LinkedIn profiles. 

Ahmed noted the connection to the former employer in the announcement: “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.”

In January, Robomart announced it had been issued a patent for its one-tap store-hailing and “seamless” checkout-free technology. Last September, the company launched a store-hailing platform for retailers, providing them with branded delivery and a quick-service option for shoppers. 

The company says active users hail a Robomart vehicle to their location 2.3 times a week, on average.

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