Coop Italia, Italy’s biggest grocery cooperative, has been showcasing its ‘supermarket of the future’ concept at this week’s Microsoft Envision conference in New Orleans, US.
The concept has been created with the aim of creating a more humanistic shopping experience for customers, and uses a range of off-the-shelf technology.
Motion sensors detect where a shopper is and what they are looking at. A visual display of information on a large, easy-to-read screen then provides all the details a consumer may require about a food product, such as ingredients, allergens, the origin or processing of the food, and even wine pairing recommendations.
“Customers now want access to everything there is to know about the products they are looking at,” said Gabriele Tubertini, Coop Italia’s chief information officer. “Take an apple, for example. They want to know what type of tree it grew on, the CO2 it produced, the chemical treatments it received, and what its journey was to the supermarket shelf.”
Coop Italia is aiming to help improve customer engagement and connect with a new generation of shoppers that have grown up with the internet at their fingertips through the concept.
The system also brings internal benefits to Coop Italia, such as updated information on shelf inventory, which helps free up valuable store space. Furthermore, the system shows in real-time which items are popular, and provides insight into how shoppers make decisions and move around the store.
The ‘supermarket of the future’ concept was created by Microsoft partners Accenture and Avanade, as well as professional services firms. The concept uses sensors developer for Microsoft’s Kinect motion-sensing camera, while Intel NUCs provide computing power to the interactive shelves and displays.
Data is stored on Microsoft Azure cloud-based platforms using the Microsoft SQL server relational database management system and Microsoft content management capabilities. Furthermore, the cash registers within the ‘store of the future’ run on an Intel-based platform with Microsoft Windows software.
“The outcome was a more natural experience for the shopper,” said John Konczal, Avanade’s industry director. “Digital tech changed the experience, but the customer didn’t have to do much differently – all they had to do was wave their hand.”
Coop Italia is now looking to implement new layouts and digital solutions in its stores based on insights it has gained from the ‘supermarket of the future’ concept.
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