Rewe expands delivery service with fulfilment centre in Bochum

Rewe has opened another food fulfilment centre (FFC) for its home delivery service in Bochum. The grocer can service to around 1.6 million households in 15 cities in the Ruhr region from the logistics hub. Employees pick the online orders using ‘pick by light’ technology, where a light signal indicates the shelf location of desired items. The company’s own fleet of delivery vehicles brings the goods to the customer.

Initially, for the new region, delivery is free of charge for a minimum order value of 35 euros. The new delivery area includes the cities of Bochum, Essen, Oberhausen, Mülheim an der Ruhr, Gelsenkirchen and Dortmund. Customers will receive their goods ordered by 1 pm on the same day. To do so, they select a free delivery window from 5 p.m. online or via app. Online shoppers in Bochum and Essen can order so-called ‘instant deliveries´ with only two hours’ notice in the evening hours.


Rewe is one of the pioneers in home delivery of fresh food in Germany. The company launched its home delivery service in 2011. Initially, picking took place in participating shops during ongoing operations. As demand grew, this became increasingly impractical. In 2014, the first FFC food fulfilment centre was established in Hürth near Cologne. The company now operates eight such logistics hubs across Germany. The home delivery service is complemented by 1,600 so-called pick-up service stores, in which customers can receive their online orders according to the click-and-collect principle. The company claims that this gives it a total online coverage of almost 90 per cent nationwide.

Technology supports pickers increasingly

Order picking at the Bochum operation is largely manual. The goods do not come to the employee, but they move through the aisles of shelves. This is also the case in most other Rewe FFCs. However, technology subsidiary Rewe Digital has already introduced several technical improvements, such as its own picking software. In addition, the ‘Pick by Light’ system makes it easier for staff to assemble the baskets. All shelves are equipped with LED rails that communicate with the employees. The system uses the last item picked to determine the next one and indicates its location by means of light signals on the shelf. This technology is already being used in some of the other FFCs.

Employees pick deliveries manually, supported by the pick-by-light system. (Photo: Rewe Lieferservice / Michael Breuer)

The pick by light system is also installed at the FFC in Frankfurt Rödelheim, that Rewe opened in June last year. For the first time, it uses another innovation, which Rewe Digital calls ‘picking loop’. This is a delivery box conveyor belt running through parts of the distribution centre, which moves boxes through the storage areas for fast-moving items in the dry goods assortment, thus saving employees to walk distances.

The company invested even more consistently in automation solutions at its Cologne facility. Under the project name Scarlet One, Rewe’s first partially automated food fulfilment centre was opened there at the end of 2018, replacing the purely manual one in Hürth. The Cologne-based company relied on the ‘E-Grocer’ solution from Austrian intralogistics specialist Knapp, which was specially developed for online food retailing.

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Joachim Pinhammer

Joachim Pinhammer supports retail and technology companies with consulting and marketing expertise. He was Senior Analyst and Research Director Retail Technology at the London-based analyst group Planet Retail. Prior to that, he was the global marketing director for the retail division of Wincor Nixdorf (now Diebold Nixdorf). Joachim Pinhammer is a regular speaker at events organised by Messe Düsseldorf (EuroShop and EuroCIS), the EHI and further industry conferences. His reports are regularly published by trade magazines and online retail industry media.

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