How Dark Grocery Stores Are Organized For High-Speed Delivery

Over the last few years, we've all become familiar with the concept of ghost kitchens – commercial kitchens that help popular brands fulfill online and mobile orders. A single ghost kitchen might even prepare orders for several chains to get deliveries out more quickly.

As it turns out, this concept has now expanded to include grocery stores. According to Vaimo, these so-called "dark stores" are essentially warehouses used solely as "centers for fulfillment operations." In other words, a dark store fulfills and delivers grocery orders made online.

Although this may sound a lot like other grocery delivery services, dark stores are actually closed to the public. Some have their own set of employees (called "riders"), while others, per Forbes, use automation. Yes, that's right, you could have your groceries packed by a robot. How wild is that? But tThe use of automation is only one way dark stores are cutting back on delivery times.

Dark stores' chaotic organization actually makes sense

Dark stores may be closed to the public, but if you managed to score an invitation inside, you'd see a very strange setup. According to NetSuite, most dark stores are in the 100-200 square feet range — at least double the size of the conventional grocery store. As such, dark stores have a much more expansive selection of products. For example, while Kroger might offer just a few different brands of canned baked beans, a dark store might stock a dozen.

Size aside, the most obvious difference is the dark store's organization of products. When you shop at stores like Walmart, you can safely expect baking supplies to be down one aisle, international foods down another aisle, and so forth. However, dark stores use a very different system and might have condensed milk, chickpeas, and spaghetti noodles sitting side-by-side.

Per the Kitchn, many dark stores "avoid placing similar items next to each other," as it's "much easier" to find the specific baked beans brand you're looking for if it isn't sitting among fifteen other brands of baked beans. Though this may seem a little chaotic, it actually increases overall delivery speed by a lot. Whatever works, right?