Amazon may be the first to offer us a highly-automated store in the form of Amazon Go, but Microsoft looks set to ensure it isn’t the only retailer removing cashiers and checkouts from the shopping experience.
As Reuters reports, Microsoft isn’t looking to open its own automated grocery stores, but it wants to be the company behind the scenes running the operation. With that in mind, a new software system is being designed at Redmond to allow other retailers to offer an Amazon Go-like experience in their own stores.
Microsoft is thought to already be at a point where it can show retailers a sample of the system in action, with Walmart being one of the first to experience it. One of the biggest obstacles that needs to be overcome is cost. The profit margins at grocery stores aren’t exactly huge and expensive tech could easily wipe them out.
Microsoft’s solution to that is apparently attempting to minimize data transfers to the cloud, instead handling most of the data and processing on-site using what Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella referred to as an “intelligent edge” device. Of course, for now Microsoft isn’t commenting publicly about any of this.
Amazon has a big head start in this area with an already functioning automated store and more to come. The company also won’t be worried about competition because Amazon can’t easily be beaten on cost as it owns the whole pipeline. Amazon Go runs on Amazon Web Services, uses an Amazon app, attracts people Amazon already counts as customers, and relies on a delivery network for restocking that Amazon already has in place.