11 April 2019
Software giant Microsoft is teaming up with Albertsons, America’s second-largest grocery chain to give a “frictionless” shopping experience to customers. The deal comes at a time when Amazon has been increasingly turning its attention to the grocery business. The world’s largest ecommerce chain Amazon had acquired Whole Foods in 2017 and is also planning to open thousands of Amazon Go stores across the country.
Under the partnership, Microsoft Azure and Microsoft 365 will be available in Albertsons stores. Albertsons Companies executive vice president and CIO Anuj Dhanda says that it will “transform the customer experience in our stores and digitally,” using “cognitive technologies, artificial intelligence and data science applied at scale.”
Microsoft says that its goal is to “eliminate the friction customers experience at the grocery store,” by making it simpler to find items and reduce wait time for consumers. The new technology will also help store employees track their inventory as well as anticipate when they need to replenish their stock.
Albertsons has been planning to expand its technology offerings, and says that the partnership is already bringing results. Its eCommerce platform now runs on Microsoft Azure, and it had rolled out a “one touch” app for its gas stations. The technology is currently being used in 27 stores in the US, and it will expand the pilot to more over 2019. Microsoft says that Albertsons will use its technology to improve its logistics.