Kroger’s sheds, which may take up to five years to complete, already give a sense of the emerging grocery battle lines. They will be big, up to about 33,000 square metres (350,000 square feet), though they can be flexed up and down. They will sit on the edge of cities. Ocado aims to make up for the long drives to deliver groceries by speeding up its robots, packing crates of 50 items in six to seven minutes. There will be no time-pressed “pickers” elbowing shoppers aside to fill an online order, as in other supermarkets.
克罗格公司的客户履约中心可能需要5年才能完工，已经给人一种杂货店战线正在形成的感觉 。客户履约中心将会很大，最多可达3.3万平方米(35万平方英尺)，尽管可以上下伸缩 。这些客户履约中心将坐落在城市郊区 。Ocado公司的目标是通过加快机器人的速度，在6到7分钟内完成50件商品的打包，从而弥补运送食品杂货的长途运输 。再也不会像其他超市那样，时间紧迫的“挑选员”把实体店顾客晾在一边去完成网上订单 。
But the Ocado model, which works well in urban Britain, is as yet untested in more sparsely populated places. In America and China others are moving in a different direction—and in a hurry.
而Ocado模式虽然在英国的城市里运行良好，但在人口更稀少的地方还没有经过测试 。在美国和中国，其他公司正朝着不同的方向快速前进 。
In 2017 Amazon sent shivers down American grocers’ spines by buying Whole Foods. On November 11th it confirmed that it was opening its first grocery store in California that is not part of that upscale chain. Last month it launched free delivery of Amazon Fresh, a grocery service, to its Prime members. So far its bark has been worse than its bite. By one estimate only 6% of its sales are perishables, compared with 65% at a traditional grocer.
2017年，亚马逊收购了Whole Foods超市，令美国杂货商胆战心惊 。11月11日，沃尔玛证实将在加州开设第一家不属于高档连锁超市系列的杂货店 。上个月，亚马逊推出了一项针对Prime会员的免费送货服务——亚马逊生鲜 。到目前为止，说的比唱的好听 。据估计，易腐食品仅占其销售额的6%，而传统杂货商的这一比例为65% 。
Amazon’s domestic rivals are making existing supermarkets the kernel of their online operations, either for picking up orders or delivering them. Close by will be micro-fulfilment centres, which will seek to emulate Ocado’s efficiency, but cut down on travel times. The model is Walmart, which cited sharp growth in online grocery from its supercentres in America as a reason for higher sales this summer. Last month it launched a service in which employees in three American cities can deliver groceries directly to customers’ fridges when no one is home, using smart-entry technology and wearable cameras. It also promises same-day delivery under a membership programme like Amazon Prime.
亚马逊的国内竞争对手正将现有的超市作为其在线业务的核心，无论是接单还是送货 。附近将会有微型履约中心，这些微型履约中心将努力模仿Ocado的效率，但会减少物流时间 。沃尔玛就是一个例子 。沃尔玛表示，其美国超级购物中心的在线杂货业务大幅增长，是今年夏季销售额上升的一个原因 。上个月，沃尔玛推出了一项服务，在美国三个城市的员工可以使用智能输入技术和可穿戴相机，在无人在家的情况下，将食品杂货直接送到顾客的冰箱里 。沃尔玛还承诺在亚马逊Prime这样的会员计划下实现当日送达 。
Alibaba’s high-tech Hema supermarkets in China are more cutting- edge still. They use QR codes on fish to validate freshness, enable app-based shopping, have robots aplenty (naturally) and offer 30-minute delivery within a small radius. Yet it is unclear if Hema’s technology will succeed where armies of cheap labour, ready to sort, pick and deliver groceries, have mostly failed.
阿里巴巴在中国的高科技超市盒马鲜生仍然更先进 。鱼身上的二维码可以验证新鲜度，盒马鲜生还支持APP购物，拥有大量机器人（理所当然），并在小范围内提供30分钟送到家服务 。然而，目前尚不清楚盒马的技术是否会成功，因为大批准备分类、挑选和运送食品杂货的廉价劳动力基本上都失败了 。
No one has as yet quite cracked the problem. More wizardry, perhaps virtual-reality headsets, may be required to make internet grocery shopping as intuitive for people as it is offline. But the incentives for grocers to press ahead are huge. No relationship in retail is as intense as that of shoppers with their supermarket. Few firms have as many eggs in the online-shopping basket as Ocado. If things do not work out, at least the Kroger deal has made Mr Steiner a rich man. If they do, he may be a rare example of a British entrepreneur with global ambitions who is not off his trolley.
到目前为止，还没有人完全解决这个问题 。也许需要更多的魔法，也许是虚拟现实的耳机，来让人们在网上购物和在线下购物一样直观 。但杂货商推进这一进程的动力是巨大的 。在零售业中，没有什么关系像购物者与超市的关系那样紧密 。很少有公司像Ocado这样在网上购物上下这么大赌注 。如果没有成功，至少克罗格公司的交易让斯坦纳成为了一个富人 。如果成功了，斯坦纳可能会成为一个罕见的例子，一个有全球抱负的不会脱离自己轨道的英国企业家 。