Kroger and Microsoft announced Monday (Jan. 7) that the two are partnering up to enable a connected store experience leveraging Microsoft's Azure cloud and Kroger technology.
In a press release, Kroger and Microsoft said that through the partnership, Kroger will test a connected store experience and jointly market a commercial Retail-as-a-Service (RaaS) product for the retail industry. With the RaaS product, Kroger will offer a suite of capabilities for merchandising plans, collect customer feedback, boost employee productivity, improve inventory and allow for personalization.
Kroger's technology team will develop a smart technology system that is powered by Microsoft Azure and connected by IoT sensors to create a futuristic shopping experience. The pilot will happen in stores located in Monroe, Ohio and Redmond, Washington, near both companies' headquarters.
According to the companies, by using Azure to store and process the retail data that is generated, the digital stores will display tech that hasn't been seen in stores before, including a shelving system called the EDGE shelf that uses digital displays of information on everything from product prices to dietary information. The shelf will connect with Kroger's Scan, Bag, Go technology to speed up checkout.
“Kroger is building a seamless ecosystem driven by data and technology to provide our customers with personalized food inspiration," said Rodney McMullen, Kroger’s chairman and CEO, in the press release. "We are identifying partners through Restock Kroger who will help us reinvent the customer experience and create new profit streams that will also accelerate our core business growth. We are excited to collaborate with Microsoft to redefine grocery retail.”
Kroger said that in addition to enhancing the shopping experience for consumers, the EDGE shelf will let Kroger generate new revenue by selling digital ad space to consumer packaged goods companies. The ads can use videos, serve up personalized offers and can be presented based on customer demographics.
“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.”