Retailer teaming with Microsoft on AI, cloud initiatives
BOISE — Albertsons Cos. is working with Microsoft on cloud-based computing and artificial intelligence solutions that it says will provide new and transformative experiences for customers and employees.
“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. executive vice president and chief information officer. “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.”
The partnership between the two companies includes immediate and long-term initiatives to digitally transform the customer journey, optimize operations and deliver better products and services. Microsoft 365 is enabling both corporate and store employees today to benefit from a modern and secure work environment, the companies said.
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.
“Customers today have endless choices when it comes to where they shop for groceries, gas and everything in between,” said Shelley Bransten, corporate vice president of worldwide retail and consumer goods at Microsoft. “We’re excited about the unique experiences that Azure and Azure AI are enabling for Albertsons Cos. that will allow it to build loyalty in this fiercely competitive market.”
Fuel stops are a whole lot faster with Albertsons Cos.’ new One Touch Fuel 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 Cos. 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 Cos. has moved its digital workloads – including its eCommerce sites, loyalty applications and more – to Azure. Albertsons Cos. 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 Retail 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.
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