Kroger Co. said today it has formed a partnership with Microsoft Corp. to develop digital shelf displays and other in-store technologies that are being tested at a Butler County store.
The partnership will transform two pilot stores located in Monroe and Redmond, Washington, giving them digital shelves, price tags and advertisements courtesy of a smart technology system, powered by Microsoft Azure and connected by IoT (Internet of Things) sensors.
The pilot stores will use Retail as a Serivce, the retailer’s preferred cloud platform, to add innovations aimed at making it easier for customers and workers to more quickly and efficiently navigate the stores, saving time for shoppers and money for Cincinnati-based Kroger.
“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 a statement. “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.”
The partnership entails the use of Microsoft Azure to store and process the data generated in stores, near the smart shelves and on Kroger’s app. That means the digital stores are able to introduce never-before-seen shopping experiences, including the latest generation of EDGE Shelf (Enhanced Display for Grocery Environment). The shelving system uses digital displays, instead of traditional paper tags, to indicate everything from prices and promotions to nutritional and dietary information.
Shelves will be able to digitally display personalized offers and advertisements based on customer demographics.
Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, said the partnership brings together Kroger’s expertise in the grocery industry with the power of Azure and Azure AI.
“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.”
Kroger will try to market the new technology with Microsoft to retailers nationwide and worldwide. The companies will present the solution Jan. 13 to 15 at National Retail Federation’s NRF 2019: Retail’s Big Show.