Microsoft has announced a new partnership with retail giant Kroger in an effort to bring futuristic retail technology to Kroger's stores. They plan on opening new stores in Washington and Ohio state, where their respective headquarters are based.
The companies will be trialing a number of new retail technologies in the stores, including smart shelves equipped with digital displays capable of updating prices dynamically or notifying shoppers of items on their shopping lists through personalized icons. If the trial goes well, this tech could be installed in all of Kroger's 2,800 subsidiary stores such as Pick n Save and Fred Meyer.
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Microsoft and Kroger have already expressed interest in offering this tech with other retailers, leveraging their respective expertise in the retail, cloud, AI and IoT to position themselves as an alternative to Amazon.
Kroger has been very open in the past about its reticence to adopt Amazon's cloud services. In 2017, Kroger announced it would not be utilizing AWS as it moved its IT operation to the cloud, despite already using it for some of its other operational needs. Amazon's subsequent entry into the brick-and-mortar retail space, first with Whole Foods and later with Amazon Go, has also discouraged other retail companies from aiding Amazon in its quest to dominate retail.
Speaking to GeekWire, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella elaborated on these goals, claiming they plan to "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".