Microsoft is reportedly taking on Amazon, as the company ventures into retail territory. The company is said to be looking into checkout-free shopping, an innovation that Amazon has pioneered.
Reuters reported that at least six people have talked to them about Microsoft developing technology that will give retail companies the option to have cashier and checkout-free shops. Microsoft is said to have partnered with fellow Redmond-based company AVA Retail. The company develops systems that can collate information about shoppers. This time around, it will be working with the renowned software company on innovations that could be used on brick-and-mortar stores.
— Fast Company (@FastCompany) June 14, 2018
Interestingly, Microsoft will not be installing said technology in their own stores. According to the sources, it has instead reached out to Walmart about the possibility of a joint effort. If this pushes through, the two companies could give Amazon a run for its money.
Microsoft is said to have around 10 to 15 employees working on researching and developing their new retail technology. There aren't a lot of concrete details at the moment, but one report said the research team has explored using cameras attached to shopping carts as a means to track the customer's purchases.
If successful, this could potentially do away with the need for cashiers. It also means a store won't need to put up hundreds of cameras the way that the Amazon Go pilot store did.
This approach suggests that Microsoft is looking to offer retailers a more cost-effective system. Stepping into the checkout-free store arena would also pit the software company against retail giant Amazon. Heated competition between the two is nothing new. Microsoft's Azure cloud service is second only to Amazon's AWS.
Walmart has declined to comment on the news and a Microsoft spokesman said the company “does not comment on rumors or speculations.”
There's no question that Amazon leads the way when it comes to changing the face of retail. If Microsoft or other businesses want to get ahead of the company, or at least be on the same standing as Amazon, they better get a move on.
Amazon has already opened to the public its first cashier-less convenience store, Amazon Go, in Seattle early this year. Shoppers entering the store are required to swipe an app which enables computer-vision technology to monitor and track them and their purchases as they walk around the store. Once done with their shopping, consumers simply walk out and their purchases are charged via their Amazon app.[Featured image via Pixabay]