Retail as a Service

The days of having to ask which aisle the baked beans are in may soon be over, as Kroger and Microsoft team up to create a new grocery concept in the US. This starts with smart shelves that light up to display the product that you are looking for on your app. Digital displays are also able to provide information on pricing and dietary information, tell you via the app if an item is out of stock, and when not in use, the display can be sold as commercial advertising space. Perhaps of greater significance, the system collects insights from customers about product choices, performance data about employees, and supports inventory management, reducing out of stock issues. Collectively, the system is being rolled out by Kroger as ‘Retail as a Service’ enablement software. This indicates that their ambition stretches beyond deployment across their store network, and into sales to other retailers. Here is an example of physical retail using technology to fight back against online shopping, which still commands only a small percentage of grocery spend. It is also competition for Amazon’s rapidly expanding Go offering, and a similar offering from Walmart. The store of the near future it seems will have digital at its core.