Microsoft is reportedly developing automated store technology.

David Meyer
June 14, 2018

Amazon opened a cashier-free, automated grocery store early this year in Seattle, and it’s got more planned for Chicago and San Francisco. But Amazon is not alone in developing such technology.

Microsoft is also developing automated store technologies, according to a Thursday Reuters piece. What’s more, the software giant has apparently been talking to Walmart and other international retailers about implementing them.

The reported move—Microsoft has not yet responded to a request for comment—puts Microsoft in competition with Amazon yet again. The two Washington state-based companies are already rivals in the cloud technology space.

What’s not clear is the method that Microsoft’s new system entails. Amazon’s version involves people scanning their smartphones when they enter a Go store; sensors can tell what they remove from shelves, and their accounts are automatically debited as they exit.

Microsoft apparently has 10-15 people working on retail store technologies, under the auspices of its Business AI team. One of these people is a computer vision expert who used to work for the Amazon Go team, Reuters reported.

Microsoft’s known retail tech efforts have so far been more about helping retailers handle customer data, organize communications across their businesses and optimize inventory, using Microsoft’s cloud and “big data” tools.

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