Albertsons has become the latest US retailer to partner with Microsoft, following deals struck with Walgreens, Kroger and Walmart.
Optimising Microsoft’s AI capabilities
Albertsons and Microsoft have signed a three-year deal for the retailer to use Microsoft’s Azure cloud service. This will enable Albertsons to tap into Microsoft’s AI capabilities and help it move towards developing a checkout-free store.
Source: IGD Research
Partnering with Walgreens to drive patient benefits
Earlier this month, Microsoft signed a seven-year deal with Walgreens. The partnership is designed to deliver several benefits to patients around the world, including personalised health care, enhanced connectivity and lowering the cost of care. Walgreens will also pilot digital health-care corners in up to 12 of its stores, creating space to showcase health-care related hardware and devices.
Driving digital transformation at Kroger and Walmart
It also formed a strategic partnership with Kroger in January. As part of this it has launched two connected store pilots with the retailer. The stores optimise Microsoft’s ‘Retail-as-a-Service’ (Rass) capabilities enabling the companies to quickly add innovations and create new customer experiences. The two companies plan to jointly commercialise several of the new solutions. Last year, Walmart and Microsoft formed a strategic partnership to further accelerate the retailer’s digital transformation, drive innovation and foster a culture of collaboration.
Tech giants active in the grocery space
A growing number of retailers are choosing Microsoft’s Azure cloud services in preference to Amazon’s AWS. While Amazon has been a long-standing competitor, its acquisition of Whole Foods Market in 2017, significantly increased in presence in the grocery market. In addition to partnering with Microsoft, retailers including Walmart and Carrefour are also working with Google and China’s Tencent. Several companies have also signed deals with Ocado for ecommerce fulfillment.
Tapping into the latest technologies for competitive advantage
For many retailers, partnering up with a tech leader has become a strategic imperative, enabling them to tap into many of the latest technologies including artificial intelligence, machine learning and voice. Optimising the significant amount of available customer and business data is viewed as providing a competitive advantage, particularly as retailers seek to deliver a more personalised experience and unearth new commercial opportunities.
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