CINCINNATI — The Kroger Co. is teaming with Microsoft Corp. to pilot a new smart technology system that will transform the way stores personalize experience and improve associate productivity.
The system will launch at two of Kroger’s grocery locations but could expand to other retail operations, reported Convenience Store News sister publication Progressive Grocer.
The pilot program stores, located in Redmond, Wash., and Monroe, Ohio, use Kroger Technology innovations powered by Microsoft Azure, Kroger’s preferred cloud platform for retail as a service (RaaS). The two companies are also offering the same platform to other operators in the industry.
“Kroger is building a seamless ecosystem driven by data and technology to provide our customers with personalized food inspiration,” said Rodney McMullen, Kroger chairman and CEO. “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.”
The shopping experience includes the latest generation of the EDGE (Enhanced Display for Grocery Environment) Shelf digital display system. Rather than use traditional paper tags, EDGE Shelf communicates everything from pricing and promotions to nutritional and dietary information.
The solution connects through Microsoft Azure AI with Kroger’s Scan, Bag, Go mobile checkout technology to create a unique guided shopping experience, according to the company. A pick-to-light productivity feature helps direct shoppers’ packing orders for curbside pickup via visual cues that help them quickly find products. Features such as Microsoft Azure-powered video analytics can help associates locate and deal with out-of-stocks.
Additionally, the new shelf technology can help Kroger generate advertising revenue by selling space to consumer packaged goods brands. Video analytics can be used to present personalized offers and advertisements based on customer demographics.
While it is piloted at the two stores, the new RaaS product is also available for other grocers to support KPIs and merchandising plans, collect customer insights, enhance employee productivity, reduce out-of-stocks, improve the customer experience and allow for hyperpersonalization through proprietary technology, including the EDGE Shelf.
Future commercial products include Scan, Bag, Go; Virtual Store Manager; the sensor network; and connectors to corporate systems such as point of sale; inventory management; and tag and merchandising systems.
Kroger’s retail footprint consists of 2,800 stores under a variety of banner names in 35 states.
Convenience Store News and Progressive Grocer are properties of EnsembleIQ.