retail news in context, analysis with attitude

CNBC reports on how “Microsoft is working on technology that would eliminate cashiers and checkout lines from stores, in a nascent challenge to Amazon.com's automated grocery shop.” Microsoft’s goal, the story says, is “to help retailers keep pace with Amazon Go, a highly automated store that opened to the public in Seattle in January. Amazon customers scan their smartphones at a turnstile to enter. Cameras and sensors identify what they remove from the shelves. When customers are finished shopping, they simply leave the store and Amazon bills their credit cards on file.

“Amazon Go, which will soon open in Chicago and San Francisco, has sent rivals scrambling to prepare for yet another disruption by the world's biggest online retailer. Some have tested programs where customers scan and bag each item as they shop, with mixed results.

“For Microsoft, becoming a strategic ally to retailers has meant big business. In addition to developing retail technologies, it ranks No. 2 behind Amazon in selling cloud services that are key to running e-commerce sites, for instance.”

The technology, much of it on display at the Microsoft Retail Experience Center in Redmond, Washington, reportedly has been shown to retailers from around the world, and Microsoft is said to have had active talks with Walmart.
KC's View:
Here’s the real challenge. Other retailers are thinking and talking about how to adopt this technology. Amazon, almost certainly, is thinking about the third iteration … and the second iteration hasn’t even been made public yet.