AI grocery

Microsoft set to challenge Amazon's online grocery application

Software company Microsoft has teamed up with American supermarket juggernaut Kroger Co. to compete with Amazon’s online grocery offerings by presenting their own “futuristic” grocery store pilot program.

Amazon took a massive step into the grocery game with their 2017 acquisition of Whole Foods. In the same year, Kroger teamed up with Google and Microsoft to take care of their cloud computing needs instead of partnering with competitor Amazon. It’s safe to say this is both an e-commerce and grocery battle, and Amazon was first to the punch.

Amazon’s retail businesses are expanding into more industries, causing shakeups that often redirect consumers to their convenient platforms. In response, Kroger is deciding to join Wal-Mart and Target in finding alternative e-vendors to handle digital sales.

Two Kroger locations in Ohio and Washington State will participate in the pilot program which will see the grocery stores outfitted with digital shelving displays showing real-time price updates, product information, and personalized advertisements.

For Kroger, the digital system will alert employees of stock shortages or low inventories while gathering location-specific information to be stored on Microsoft’s cloud application for analytical purposes. Both companies will market the technology to other retailers.

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

Amazon had a similar pilot of theirs with Amazon Go, a product that detects when a shopper picks up and scans an item, then charges them once they leave a store, effectively eliminating the need for a cashier.

Rumour has it that Amazon will be expanding this Go pilot into Whole Foods stores, pushing other retailers to advance and innovate consumer technologies of their own.