Microsoft Is Teaming Up With America’s Second-largest Grocery Chain To Fend Off Amazon

Posted: Feb 25, 2019

The partnership will introduce a ‘frictionless’ experience for customers

Software giant Microsoft is teaming up with Albertsons, America’s second-largest grocery chain, to implement a “frictionless” shopping experience for customers. The deal comes as Amazon has been increasingly turning its attention to the grocery business, which acquired Whole Foods in 2017 and has reportedly been planning to open thousands of Amazon Go stores across the country.

The partnership will bring Microsoft Azure and Microsoft 365 to Albertsons stores, which Albertsons Companies executive vice president and CIO Anuj Dhanda says will allow it to “transform the customer experience in our stores and digitally,” using “cognitive technologies, artificial intelligence and data science applied at scale.”

The goal, according to Microsoft, is to “eliminate the friction customers experience at the grocery store,” by making it easier to find items and reduce wait times, while also helping store employees track their inventory and anticipate when they might need additional stock.

Albertsons has been working to expand its technology offerings, and the companies say that the partnership has already brought along results. Its eCommerce platform now runs on Microsoft Azure, and last year, Albertsons rolled out a “one touch” app for its gas stations (which runs on Azure), which allows drivers to pull up to a gas pump and fuel up by paying with a mobile device. The technology is currently being used in 27 stores, and the company says that it will expand the pilot to more this year. Microsoft says that Albertsons will use its data science to improve its supply chain and logistics as well.

Microsoft has made several inroads into the grocery and retail marketplace in the last year. Last July, it teamed up with Walmart for a five-year deal to bring Microsoft Azure and Microsoft 365 to the retail giant, while in January, it formed a partnership with Kroger, the largest grocery chain in the United States, to build a couple of high-tech grocery stores in Ohio and Washington that use digital signs and apps to allow customers to find items quickly.

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By Andrew Liptak
February 23, 2019

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