Albertsons Seeks to Transform In-Store Experience With Microsoft Cloud Technology
The Albertsons Cos. is adopting new cloud technology from Microsoft to give shoppers and employees alike "new and transformative experiences."
The new partnership, which includes such cloud solutions as Microsoft Azure and Microsoft 365, is intended to reduce friction in the shopping experience. Using Azure, Azure AI and Azure Cognitive Services, the partnership will help digitally transform the customer journey, optimize operations and deliver better products and services. Microsoft 365 is enabling both corporate and store employees to benefit from a modern, secure work environment.
“We are reimagining the future to serve customers in a way they want to interact with us across all channels,” said Anuj Dhanda, Albertsons Cos. EVP and CIO. “Our partnership has already produced an innovative way to save time at the gas pump. Microsoft’s strengths in cognitive technologies, artificial intelligence and data science applied at scale at Albertsons Cos. will transform the customer experience in our stores and digitally.”
Moving forward, the two companies plan to work together to leverage Azure and Azure AI and other Microsoft Cognitive Services to transform the shopping experience by eliminating the friction customers experience at the grocery store, such as not finding the products they want, longer-than-usual waits at the deli or meat counters, and, of course, checkout lines. For store managers and associates, these intelligent solutions can also help anticipate out-of-stocks and misplaced products.
Fuel stops are faster with Albertsons’ new One Touch Fuel mobile app, which eliminates the hassle of prompts at the pump and saves an average of at least 90 seconds during a fuel-up. The app allows customers to pay for fuel, claim rewards, and activate the pump in just one tap of the phone.
The new solution, which is being piloted in 25 stores across five divisions, uses Microsoft Azure and geo-fencing to allow customers to complete almost all the tasks associated with paying for gas from within the comfort of their car. The pilot results have exceeded expectations, with app downloads continually increasing.
Albertsons plans to introduce One Touch Fuel to more of its fuel stations throughout 2019.
In addition to creating frictionless experiences for customers and employees, Albertsons has moved its digital workloads – including its ecommerce sites, loyalty applications and more – to Azure. Albertsons plans to build its data science and analytics platform on Azure, with a vision to gain additional insight into its data and allow store managers to use predictive scenarios to anticipate and act on revenue-driving opportunities.
For employees, Microsoft 365 is enabling corporate workers to collaborate across the organization. Store associates are also empowered with the information they need to provide the best service to shoppers via Albertsons Cos.’ online Retail Portal. The portal ensures that store associates have access to real-time information about specials, promotions, product recalls and more.
Finally, Microsoft Azure Active Directory and Microsoft Intune are allowing Albertsons Cos. to provide these modern solutions to employees securely and across devices.
Albertsons' partnership with Microsoft marks the second deal between a major U.S. grocer and the Redmond, Wash.-based technology company. Last month, Microsoft and the Cincinnati-based Kroger Co. piloted the grocer's new Retail as a Service (RaaS) solution, a suite of cutting-edge digital solutions powered by Microsoft Azure, Kroger's preferred cloud platform, that also can be adopted by other retailers. Progressive Grocer sister brand Consumer Goods Technology was able to conduct a rapid-fire Q&A with Kroger at Retail's Big Show 2019 last month, available to read here.
Based in Boise, Idaho, Albertsons Cos. operates stores across 34 states and the District of Columbia under 20 banners, including Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, Jewel-Osco, Shaw’s, Acme, Tom Thumb, Randalls, United Supermarkets, Pavilions, Star Market, Haggen and Carrs, as well as meal-kit company Plated. The grocer is No. 3 on PG's 2018 Super 50 list of the top grocers in the United States.