Ocado is finally set to sell its smart machine-laden automated warehouse technology to other retailers.
The company is close to clinching a deal with US supermarket chain Publix to sell its warehousing and logistics technology as a package, according to reports.
Ocado's business strategy has long encompassed the idea not just of using its technology to ship groceries to UK customers, but to sell the system to other retailers looking to establish similar online offerings.
Such a deal is long overdue. The company expected in February 2015 to close the first sale of the Ocado Smart Platform by the end of the year, but no deal materialised.
The platform was created in-house by Ocado, as Paul Clarke, director of technology at Ocado, explained to V3. "There's a huge technology iceberg underneath the surface and we build almost all of it. We buy almost nothing," he said.
The platform effectively automates the majority of the firm's retail operations from order to fulfilment.
Ocado has always had the vision to package the platform and sell it to other companies, primarily for overseas markets, giving the company another revenue stream alongside its e-commerce operations.
Publix has 1,115 outlets and annual revenues of over $32bn, so the sale could be lucrative for Ocado, while access to its platform would help Publix fulfil a deal with US app Shipt to deliver groceries to customers in its core south Florida market.
Ocado is an interesting example of how using the latest digital technology and hardware can transform a business, rather than simply boost its efficiency.
The firm's foray into the IoT, especially with its robot-powered warehouses, and the move to commercialise the underlying technology platform, shows that digital transformation is so much more than creating an app, putting infrastructure in the cloud or buying a smart fridge.
To recognise this sort of digital transformation, V3 has recently launched the V3 Digital Technology Leaders Awards 2016 to celebrate the best projects, people and digital teams bringing new ideas to life to benefit customers and their business. Entries are free and open now.
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