Kroger, a large player in the American grocery chain market, recently launched a trial of smart technology to make shopping easier for consumers and managing stock easier on store employees. This technology, developed by Microsoft on their Azure cloud platform, utilizes digital displays located on shelves in place of paper price tags as well as the customer's smartphone or a store-supplied device.
The system works through an app that customers plug their shopping list into. Then, the backend system compares the list to the store being shopped and maps out the locations for every item. Then, an interactive map guides shoppers to their items. Here's where the digital displays come in play - using location data the display of the shopping list item will recognize the approaching customer and then change to a user-set icon to catch their attention. From there, the display can also display nutritional information, coupons, advertisements, promotions, and more. In their resting state the displays will show prices, with the plus that they can be remotely updated which saves store employees time and allows for more dynamic promotions.
Once the shopper makes their selection, the item can be scanned with the smartphone app and the shopper can move on. With all items scanned, they can also skip the checkout lines.
An additional plus to the smart grocery system is that customers can input allergies or dietary restrictions. Allergic to almonds? The system can display which breakfast cereals are safe for you to eat. However, the biggest perk to the system thus far has been for online grocery orders fulfilled by store employees. Pressed for time and dealing with a list prepared by someone who perhaps shops from unfamiliar aisles, having the shelves indicate where the ordered item is certainly speeds up preparation of orders. In a hot market with the likes of curbside pickup becoming more commonplace this speedy tech could give Kroger an edge.
This article was based on a January 7, 2019 Business Insider article by Hayley Peterson.