Kroger, Microsoft Partner to Take on Amazon, Walmart With Connected Stores

January 7, 2019, 10:38 PM UTC

Grocery giant Kroger is partnering with Microsoft to begin beta testing new connected store technology, according to an announcement from Kroger released on Monday.

The test will launch with two new pilot stores, located in the cities of Monroe, Ohio and Redmond, Wash. and close to Kroger’s headquarters. Both stores will feature technology such as digital pricing signage, which will provide consumers with richer data, including nutritional information. Powered by Microsoft Azure and some IoT sensors, the in-store tech will also allow individual stores to alter promotions quickly to meet consumer demand. The intention behind the idea is pretty simple: get more consumers shopping in brick-and-mortar stores again, instead of just ordering online. The changes should also help employees more easily navigate the stores, change signs, and complete tasks such as fulfilling curbside orders.

“Our partnership brings together Kroger’s world-class expertise in the grocery industry with the power of Azure and Azure AI,” said Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, in a statement.

(KR) Kroger has already been partnering with other companies to offer delivery fulfillment and experiment with new digital tools, including robotics startup Nuro, UK online supermarket Ocado, and (WBA) Walgreens, according to CNN. And for its part, Microsoft has been working on new automated retail technology for a while. It was previously reported that Microsoft might partner with Walmart on such a venture.

Amazon has been testing connected cashierless stores in urban centers including Seattle and Chicago, as well as select Whole Foods locations. Amazon is reportedly even eying opportunities to open some cashless Amazon Go stores in airports.