Grocery stores in the United States have remained largely unchanged over the past century. Most of the roughly 40,000 grocery stores in the United States feature printed labels and coupons to assist consumers in their shopping experience. But Microsoft and Kroger are teaming up to revolutionize the industry by developing two new high-tech grocery stores.
According to The Verge, the unlikely duo are planning to open the new stores in Monroe, Ohio and Redmond, Wash. While the stores will feature many of the same products already offered at Kroger’s stores, they’ll rely on video surveillance, artificial intelligence (AI) and display devices to provide consumers with a more seamless shopping experience.
When shopping at Microsoft and Kroger’s new grocery stores, consumers will encounter display devices featuring product information like pricing and digital coupons. Because this information is displayed digitally, it can be updated in real time. In comparison, printing pricing labels and coupons and placing them on front of every product for sale in a grocery store can take several days.
Reports show that Microsoft and Kroger will use AI to collect demographic data on shoppers. By understanding who shops at their stores, the companies can sell targeted ads to food and beverage makers. Some consumers may have privacy concerns regarding the way in which Microsoft and Kroger use this data. But the companies say that it will only use demographic data for the purpose of providing consumers with targeted, relevant ads while they shop.
The new high-tech grocery stores are also expected to digitally guide consumers to their desired products. After downloading the Kroger app on their mobile device, consumers can create a shopping list of all the products they want to purchase. The app will then direct the consumer to the appropriate aisle where he or she can find these products.
Microsoft and Kroger aren’t without competition. Amazon has been developing high-tech grocery stores as well. Known as Amazon Go, Amazon’s grocery stores eliminate the need for a cashier by automatically detecting products added to a consumer’s shopping cart. The e-commerce company currently has 10 Amazon Go stores in the United States, four of which are located in Seattle. Recently, though, Amazon disclosed an ambitious plan to open more than 2,000 grocery stores in the United States alone.