Cincinnati based Supermarket Company Kroger has announced a partnership with Microsoft to test a digital shelf technology based on Microsoft’s Azure AI. The partnership will bring together Kroger’s expertise in grocery industry and Microsoft’s technological innovation to create a seamless world class shopping experience for the customer.
Two Kroger stores one in Redmon, Washington and the other in Monroe, Ohio are selected to test the new technology. The Kroger technology team was instrumental in developing smart digital shelf using Microsoft’s Azure AI this will work as its Retail as a Service (RaaS) establishing an innovative way to enrich customer shopping experience.
The two Kroger stores where the shelf is being tested is filled are filled with image recognition cameras and digital shelf labels which are specifically designed to ease shopping experience in a retail environment. This will make finding the right product easier for the customer as well as employees. The data accumulated in these stores will be stored and processed by Microsoft Azure. The Kroger’s smartphone app will introduce to the customers the latest version of EDGE which stands for Enhanced Display for Grocery Environment, a digital shelving system which instead of using paper tags uses digital displays to indicate expiry date, prices and dietary and nutritional information.
The Microsoft’s Azure AI will connect to everything from Kroger’s Bag, Go and Scan which will create smart shopping experience for users. The information stored will be used to recommend new products to customers according to their individual preferences more like Kroger’s ClickList.
As e-commerce challenged the way brick and mortar stores conducted their business, Retail as a Service was evolved to enhance customer experience in retail stores. RaaS was built by retailers for retailers to harmonize customer’s offline as well as online shopping experience. The future applications will include Virtual Store manager, Scan, Go, inventory management, merchandise and tagging systems, connectors to point of sale and other corporate systems and sensor network. The EDGE shelf demonstration will be shown at retails biggest show NRF 2019 at Microsoft’s booth in New York.
The Companies vision for RaaS is to provide individualized food inspiration based on a retail ecosystem using innovative technology and data. The EDGE Shelf will be the first step towards this goal which uses personalized ads, pick to light and guided shopping. Rodney McMullen, Kroger’s Chairman and CEO said that the company’s collaboration with Microsoft will revolutionize retail experience.