Back in 2014, grocery store giant Kroger began to discuss its digital shelf technology, where they would replace traditional shelf labels with digital shelf labels to enable features such as dynamic pricing. Over time, this effort would expand to include personalized information for the shopper.

By late 2015, the digital shelf tech had rolled out from a few dozen stores to over two thousand nationwide and had begun to incorporate dynamic pricing and nutrition info.

Now the company is looking to power-up its digital shelf technology with IoT. According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, Kroger “is testing sensors and analytics technology to let shelves and products interact with shoppers walking the grocery aisles.” The new system would be able to detect individual shoppers and created targeted advertising using the electronic shelf display screens.

This new effort, which looks to employ location-sensing and authentication technology that at least sounds similar to what Amazon is talking about with Amazon Go, is currently in 14 stores in the company’s home market of Cincinnati.

Can grocery giants like Kroger employ IoT tech to make the shopping experience better? They better hope so. After all, it’s not like Amazon is slowing down its grocery ambitions. The Wall Street Journal reported in December that Amazon has plans that go beyond the smaller concept store unveiled in Seattle in late 2016.

As Allen Weiner wrote about the effort earlier this week, “Amazon will test two other concepts, including a drive-through version and a larger, expansive store to compete with Target and Wal Mart. Based on its tests, Amazon will move quickly into expansion mode with a full-scale, nationwide rollout. The initial batch of such IoT grocery stores will likely be based in states where Amazon has large fulfillment and warehouse centers.” The Journal reports Amazon could open up to 2,000 such stores under the planned rollout.

For grocery store companies, this move towards context-aware and IoT-powered shopping is nothing new. What is new is Amazon taking things next-level with Amazon Go, which uses IoT and AI to go beyond incremental changes and entirely rethink how grocery shopping should work.

And now, slowly but surely, established players like Kroger are trying to figure out what it means when the leading online retailer moves into their world of brick and mortar.

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  1. Between the attack on on side from warehouse stores and from etailers on the other side, I’m not sure grocery stores can make the transition fast enough. That said, there are a whole bunch of people who don’t want to make everything smartphone enabled.

    Not an easy problem to solve.

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