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article imageKroger and Microsoft collaborate on digital shelf technology

By Karen Graham     Jan 8, 2019 in Technology
Redmond - The Kroger Company and Microsoft Corp announced on Tuesday a collaboration to test an upgraded digital shelf technology that the Cincinnati-based supermarket chain says could speed up shopping for its customers.
The pilot program is being tested at two Kroger locations, one in Monroe, Ohio, and the other in Redmon, Washington, where Microsoft is headquartered, reports CTV News Canada.
"Our partnership brings together Kroger’s world-class expertise in the grocery industry with the power of Azure and Azure AI,” said Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. “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.”
The two Kroger stores are filled with digital shelf labels and image recognition cameras and are designed to make it easier for customers and employees to navigate the retail environment and ultimately create a totally new customer experience.
Kroger’s EDGE shelving
Kroger’s EDGE shelving
Kroger + Microsoft
Transformative customer experiences
The Kroger Technology team has developed a smart technology system, powered by Microsoft Azure and connected by IoT sensors. The pilot stores will be using a cloud platform for Retail as a Service (RaaS), establishing a way to quickly add innovations to create new customer experiences.
Using Microsoft Azure to store and process the data generated in stores, near the smart shelves, and on Kroger’s app, customers will be introduced to the latest generation of "EDGE" Shelf (Enhanced Display for Grocery Environment), a shelving system that uses digital displays, instead of traditional paper tags, to indicate everything from prices and promotions to nutritional and dietary information.
Using Microsoft Azure AI, EDGE Shelf will connect with Kroger’s Scan, Bag, Go, creating a unique guided shopping experience for customers. The Kroger app can also recommend items based on the customer’s shopping habits, much like Krogers' ClickList.
Kroger: Aisle guidance
Kroger: Aisle guidance
Kroger + Microsoft
The RaaS product
RaaS was built by retailers for retailers, writes Microsoft. RaaS gives shoppers enhanced retail experiences along with harmonizing customers’ digital and physical shopping experiences.
"Future commercial products include Scan, Bag, Go; Virtual Store Manager; sensor network; and connectors to corporate systems like point-of-sale, and inventory management, tag and merchandising systems."
The first RaaS product offerings, EDGE Shelf, guided shopping, personalized ads and pick-to-light, will be available to view at the NRF 2019: Retail’s Big Show in New York in the Microsoft booth.
Rodney McMullen, Kroger’s chairman and CEO, said, “Kroger is building a seamless ecosystem driven by data and technology to provide our customers with personalized food inspiration. 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."
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