Microsoft is looking to challenge Amazon Go’s technology with a raft of in-store technologies that will help retailers build check-out free shopping experiences, it has been reported by Reuters.
The software giant is believed to be working on systems that track what shoppers add to their carts, reports Reuters. Microsoft has shown sample technology to retailers from around the world and has had talks with Walmart about a potential collaboration, which appear to be fruitful.
Microsoft already supplies a great deal of more conventional retail tech to retailers and brands globally and is second behind Amazon in the provision of cloud services to large retailers.
The move into offering this in-store tech makes sense, as it has deep connections with retailers and the development teams to back it up. It is also a bold play, as until now the Redwood-based software giant hasn’t done much that is customer-facing in retail.
Amazon Go has gained a hegemony over check-out free shopping with its Go Store in Seattle piloting the offering. It is now opening a raft of further stores across the US, with Chicago and San Francisco opening their doors this Summer.
Other retailers including Sainsbury’s, Co-op and Budgens in the UK are all trialling their own scan and go technologies.
However, not all consumers are convinced. A recent Paysafe global study revealed that 59% of UK consumers consider check-out free shopping ‘too risky’, while 13% can see the benefits but have security concerns.
But times are a-changing. “News of Microsoft developing technology to rival Amazon Go’s checkout-free stores should come as no surprise while the UK is in the midst of a retail renaissance,” comments Nigel Arthur, Managing Director of Urban Airship, EMEA & APAC. “Too many retailers are forgetting that the in-store experience should be exactly as it’s defined: an experience. In-store footfall figures are succumbing to digital shopping and the retailers who are going to really thrive are the ones ready to push the boundaries in their stores and in digital to attract customers back to the high-street.”
Arthur continues: “Amazon is a great example of a brand harnessing technology to challenge the norm and give customers an in-store experience that they want, so it’s great to see other major players such as Microsoft get involved. At the Amazon Go concept store in Seattle, shoppers sign-in using a QR code. Physical sensors combined with deep learning algorithms keep track of what items are purchased and brands can harness this to ensure they are promoting deals based on shoppers’ interests in real-time. Shoppers can leave the store with purchases billed to their accounts; no checkout queues, no need to remember card details. It integrates the seamlessness of digital channels with the instant gratification of in-store to provide a completely new way to shop.”
He concludes: “In the future of retail, it’s not about prioritising digital or in-store experiences one over the other, it’s about implementing an offering that blends the best of both to provide completely new and innovative customer experiences that help the retailer stand out and helps marketers to offer truly contextualised messages in a new and digital-first retail environment.”