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Kroger Turns to Cloud Tech to Enhance Store Experience

The grocery giant has deployed a variety of Google Cloud data analytics, AI and machine learning tools under an application framework co-developed by Deloitte and Kroger.

Kroger has formed a strategic partnership with Google Cloud and Deloitte to help the grocery giant increase associate productivity across its nearly 2,800 stores nationwide using cloud technologies.

Kroger recently deployed a variety of Google Cloud data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) tools under an application framework co-developed by Deloitte and Kroger. The new tools have already rolled out to stores to assist store managers and associates make real-time operational decisions and deliver a better shopping experience for its roughly 11 million daily shoppers, according to a recent media release from Google Cloud.

"Technology and digital tools are fundamental elements of how Kroger continues to improve the associate experience, which in turn, enhances the in-store experience for our customers,” Jim Clendenen, vice president, enterprise retail systems, Kroger, said in the release. “Innovation is a critical component, and execution is even more important. Google Cloud and Deloitte brought us a technology architecture and application framework that we could implement in record time. We're already seeing results across our stores, with associate tasks being optimized and overall productivity increasing."

Kroger worked with Google Cloud and Deloitte to create two “purpose-built” applications focused on enhancing associate productivity. The first is a new task management application that provides Kroger's night crew managers with greater visibility into the volume and type of merchandise arriving on a given day, store staffing information and stocking needs. The system then prioritizes team activities with minimal clicks on an Android device, and quickly informs associates of inventory or delivery changes in real time.

The second is Kroger's new store management application, which aims to empower store leaders to be less dependent on paper tools. The app provides a standardized audit checklist for store managers and department leaders, helping ensure a quality shopping experience for customers. It also offers a customizable walk path that guides store audits and gives team members flexibility in how store conditions are regularly evaluated.

Both the store management and task management applications are now automatically generating tasks and prioritizing work for Kroger associates nationally.

Underpinning Kroger's new applications are several Google Cloud technologies that were used by Deloitte to build a more modern, event-driven architecture for the retailer, according to the release, including:

  • AI and machine learning: Google Cloud's AI and ML dynamically optimizes Kroger associate task lists based on inbound signals such as goods delivery data and staff availability.
  • Spanner: Google Cloud Spanner's fully managed relational database allowed Kroger to build an event-driven ledger, which enables the company to capture unique events (at different times throughout the day and from different stores) to make better-informed decisions about how to assign associates’ time.
  • Dataflow: Kroger uses Google Cloud's serverless data-processing service for capturing and analyzing data from different sources (e.g., labor rates, transportation logistics, sales forecasting and out-of-stock information).

"Retail is in the details. One of the most important ones many retailers struggle with is how to maximize the time and talents of their associates when every store and every day is different," Jose Luis-Gomes, managing director, retail and consumer, Google Cloud, said in the release. "Kroger doesn't just have the latest and greatest technologies — the grocer is literally putting them into the hands of their associates so their time can be used on what matters most for Kroger's customers."

"Today, retailers are prioritizing and investing in technology as a strategic differentiator, and customers are making share-of-wallet choices based on those investments," Jon Yoo, principal, Deloitte Consulting, added. "With Kroger, Deloitte and Google Cloud used that investment to build a platform that considers the unique balance of people, processes, and technologies required to power revolutionary customer and associate experiences."

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