Kroger Disrupts the Disruptors
CINCINNATI -- Kroger and Microsoft are teaming up and taking on Amazon.
The grocer is testing digital shelving powered by Microsoft tech. Kroger has retrofitted just about every shelf in two stores in Monroe, Ohio, and Redmond, Wash., with Microsoft’s smart shelves. These locations were chosen for their proximity to Kroger’s headquarters in Cincinnati and Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond. Meanwhile, 100 other Kroger stores across the country now include smart shelves on select endcaps.
Kroger’s system is designed to guide shoppers to the item they’re looking for and to conveniently deliver any information about the item customers might need.
Click through for more on Kroger’s new techie shopping experience …
Microsoft’s smart shelves use digital displays instead of paper tags to indicate everything from prices and promotions to nutritional and dietary information. The shelves also connect with Kroger’s Scan, Bag, Go program, the mobile tool customers can use to scan their purchases instead of waiting at the checkout line to do so. The shelves can even display personalized offers and advertisements based on which customer is shopping there.
Right this way
In what can only be described as a gift to both employees picking online orders and befuddled customers, digital price tags on the smart shelf can display a personalized icon as customers move through an aisle outfitted with smart shelves. Customers can select the icon they want displayed and it will appear below the item in question. The personalized tags drastically cut down on the time required to fill online orders, Chris Hjelm, Kroger’s chief information officer, told Business Insider.
Some smart-shelf features work behind the scenes. For instance, the system’s video analytics platform can help store associates more easily identify and address out-of-stock items.
The tech powering the shelves is run by Microsoft Azure, Microsoft’s cloud computing service, and it’s not stopping with Kroger. "Our partnership brings together Kroger's world-class expertise in the grocery industry with the power of Azure and Azure AI," said Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. "Together, we will redefine the shopping experience for millions of customers at both Kroger and other retailers around the world, setting a new standard for innovation in the industry."
By partnering with Microsoft, Kroger has managed to bring its shopping experience into the modern age of retail without drastically changing the way people shop. It has also made frictionless shopping more accessible. If customers do not have a smartphone with which to scan items, Kroger can supply a handheld device built to accomplish the same task, allowing anyone to experience the latest retail technology.
The cold tech war continues
Installing Microsoft’s smart shelves is the next step in Restock Kroger, the grocer’s plan “to redefine the food and grocery customer experience in America.”
Kroger joins Amazon and Walmart in their goals to introduce new tech-forward shopping experiences into the retail landscape. But while Amazon has rolled out concepts that redefine shopping, Kroger has taken a different route by adopting technology that makes legacy shopping easier.