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The Wall Street Journal has a story about how Kroger "is testing sensors and analytics technology to let shelves and products interact with shoppers walking the grocery aisles. The system, which detects individual shoppers through their mobile devices, can offer tailored pricing on specific items and, through 4-inch color display screens, highlight products on the customer’s mobile shopping list. Tests began late last year and are expected to expand in the coming months."

According to the story, "The 'digital shelf edge' project is part of Kroger’s strategy to automate and personalize the shopping experience as the chain faces competition online from Amazon.com Inc., Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s Jet.com unit and others."

Chris Hjelm, Kroger's chief information officer, says that the goal is "to bring technology to life in the store."
KC's View:
This is an interesting story for a number of reasons.

First, it allows Kroger to go even further down the path of customization of the shopping experience, doing everything it can to use data to make shopping more relevant and compelling to the person walking down the aisle ... which can dovetail nicely if that same person does some of his or her shopping with Kroger online.

It also allows Kroger to establish a beachhead in the ongoing battle against Amazon, which has a number of bricks-and-mortar formats that it is playing with and hopes to learn from. There may be some challenges in replicating the Amazon Go experience - which gets rid of the checkout line - because Amazon Go is a much smaller format with fewer products than Kroger generally operates. But it is important to meet those challenges face-on.

But beyond "personalizing" the shopping experience, it is interesting that these initiatives also focus on "automating" the shopping experience ... especially at the same time as it is pledging to do a lot of hiring.