Microsoft and Kroger Team Up Compete With Amazon

Kroger has announced a plan to roll out new technology aimed at streamlining customer shopping experience.  Essentially, the technology digitally displays pricing and nutritional information as well as video ads and coupons where traditional price tags would normally hang.  So far, the digital shelving has been tested in two pilot Kroger stores and is already installed on end caps at approximately 100 stores throughout the chain. 

This technology allows for Kroger to change prices instantly and even activate certain promotions in stores where it is installed.  This enables the company to initiate sale prices that will undercut the competition, which also frees up workers would otherwise have the responsibility of physically changing prices.

In addition—and perhaps more importantly—this technology can communicate with an app in your smartphone that helps you complete your shopping list more efficiently.  While you walk through the store, these digital price tags light up with a personalized icon, identifying items on your shopping list.  This makes it easier to find the stuff you are looking for, but you can also scan items in the aisles that you did not have on your list. You can also use a handheld device, provided by the store, to scan your products. 

The app will also show you where to find the next product on your shopping list as well as coupons that could help you save money and ads for other products that might interest you.  And while you are looking for the next item on your list, the app can also direct you towards products that better fit your dietary restrictions or nutritional needs.  If you are gluten-free, for example, the digital shopping assistant would highlight those products to draw your attention towards them.

What is maybe most interesting about this technology is that engineers developed it using Microsoft Azure.  This is Microsoft’s cloud-computing service that will, essentially, compete with Amazon Cloud services.  Certainly, you might ascertain that Microsoft and Kroger’s collaboration could be seen as directly competitive with the recent Amazon and Whole Foods partnership, as well as the Amazon Go project that is set to launch 3,000 quick shopping locations across the United States soon.

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