After the Amazon Go store and the much-hyped cashier-less store technology will soon have another tech giant in the space. Reportedly Microsoft has been working on using Artificial Intelligence, in which their AI team is building a program which can track what a shopper is putting in their basket. There have also been rumors about Microsoft already aiming to partner with big retailers like Walmart, to implement this technology. Several other technology start-ups are working on similar technologies are Standard Cognition, AIFI, and AVA Retail. Microsoft also wants this technology to be affordable by the retailers keeping in mind their profit margins. In 2017 Microsoft showcased something similar at the National Retail Federation’s Big Show event which included an application called ‘Skip’. With Skip, users can scan each item and check-out on their own mobile devices!
The Rivalry between Amazon & Microsoft
These cashier-less retail stores are a direct rival to Amazon Go. Amazon Go is far ahead of Microsoft as the first Amazon Go store opened at the company’s headquarters in Seattle in 2016 and was opened to the public in January 2018. The company is already opening other Amazon Go stores in Chicago and San Francisco. Amazon Go enables customers to check-in via their unique QR code, while the cameras in the store combined with the weight sensors track what a customer is buying.
Microsoft has also been trying to improve their in-store customer experience. In a recent press release they said: “The Retail Experience Centre features in-store displays of Microsoft consumer products and showcases powerful ways to cut costs, create efficiencies, streamline operations, and promote and sell goods — within the aisles, in the employee break room, at receiving and shipping, at checkout, across the Web, and even at home or on the go.” Microsoft is now working with the Six Partners Group which are also working on the cashier-less technology. They have also hired an ex-Amazon Go employee who is a computer vision specialist. Although Amazon is well ahead, few retailers cannot yet afford to build their own cashier-less systems and they may need to partner with companies like Microsoft in terms of Cost, in which case Microsoft may have an edge over the Amazon Go store pricing model.