As we moved into 2019, we didn’t guess one of Microsoft’s early-year pursuits would be a pushback against Amazon in the retail space. That’s where we are though after the company announced a partnership with Kroger. America’s largest grocery store chain will use Microsoft technology to create two innovative physical stores.

“Our partnership brings together Kroger’s world-class expertise in the grocery industry with the power of Azure and Azure AI,” said Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. “Together, we will redefine the shopping experience for millions of customers at both Kroger and other retailers around the world, setting a new standard for innovation in the industry.”

Just yesterday, we discussed Microsoft’s development of Mixed Reality technology that would allow one-click shopping in a physical space. While that’s a patent, what is real is the company’s plans to challenge Amazon Go with automated checkout solutions.

However, while Amazon is creating its own stores, Microsoft is teaming with retail giants. It’s a win-win situation, giving Microsoft a platform for its technology and retailers a chance in their fight against Amazon and online shopping. Back last year, Microsoft partnered with Walmart to get the ball rolling.

Fast and Efficient

Now, Kroger is collaborating with the software giant. The company will open a pair of stores, one in Washington and the other in Ohio. Customers will be greeted by image recognition cameras and digital shelf labels to create an efficient retail experience. Microsoft and Kroger will also use targeted ads through digital signage in the locations.

The obvious question is what is the benefit for the consumer? Well, customers will be guided around the store by an app. Searched items will show a symbol on the shelf, allowing the customer to more easily find what they’re looking for. Kroger and Microsoft say the service will be quicker and easier.

“Kroger is building a seamless ecosystem driven by data and technology to provide our customers with personalized food inspiration. We are identifying partners through Restock Kroger who will help us reinvent the customer experience and create new profit streams that will also accelerate our core business growth. We are excited to collaborate with Microsoft to redefine grocery retail,” said Rodney McMullen, Kroger’s chairman and CEO.