At the recent Microsoft Envision conference in New Orleans, Coop Italia showed how it is taking customers into the supermarket of the future by evoking the past. Italy’s largest grocery cooperative showcased a digital design concept built on Microsoft technology in collaboration with Accenture and Avanade. Their supermarket of the future blends old-fashioned open displays and in-person interaction with large interactive screens that offer customers information on the food they’re buying, from nutrition facts and allergy warnings to carbon footprint data and even recipes and wine pairings.
“It’s like a return to the old marketplace, where producers and consumers of food could easily interact with each other, exchanging stories and ideas,” says Gabriele Tubertini, Coop Italia’s chief information officer.
Coop Italia’s “supermarket of the future,” designed by architect and designer Carlo Ratti, uses Microsoft Kinect sensors to detect shoppers’ movements and interact with them at the shelves. In addition to offering brick-and-mortar grocery customers the information-rich environment of the online shopping experience, the system analyzes data to help the retailer keep shelves properly stocked and gain insight into customers’ shopping patterns and buying choices. Data is stored on Microsoft Azure cloud-based platforms using Microsoft SQL Server and Microsoft content management capabilities; customers check out at Windows cash registers.
More than 1.7 million people visited the test store during the six months that Expo Milan was open, giving Coop Italia insights that it will incorporate into its existing retail stores. By seamlessly blending in-store sensors, interactive displays, rich data analytics and the power of the cloud, the store concept shows the potential of the Internet of Things (IoT) to transform the food shopping experience.