Talk about unfortunate timing. This week Accenture published news that it has collaborated with Italy’s largest supermarket chain Coop Italia “to reinvent the customer experience in grocery shopping with the opening of its Supermarket of the Future store.”

The only problem was everyone was already talking about the supermarket of the future, Amazon Go. Most notably its system which allows customers to take what they want from shelves and walk out without paying. The items are automatically charged to shopper’s Amazon accounts.

The new flagship store, located in Milan’s University area of Bicocca, was opened of December 6, one day after Amazon Go made its public debut.

The store is designed to “merge the physical and digital to recreate the atmosphere of local open-air markets, combined with innovative digital solutions that provide useful product information, while improving store navigation.”

Where the technology in the Amazon Go store is largely invisible, Coop Italia uses futuristic screens to put technology front and centre of the shopping experience.

Microsoft Kinect sensors detect body movement and display product information on the mirrored digital screens hanging above the shelves. For example, if you point at a product the screens will tell you the nutritional information and price.

While inside the store customers can view a real-time data visualisation screen showing content including daily specials, cooking suggestions, social media information including posts on Coop’s Facebook account, top selling products and promotions for each category.

Yeah, yeah. But does it have checkouts?

The payment system is the standard cash/credit/debit card system, as Italians culturally prefer to use cash.

The store incorporates a series of technical solutions originally developed by Accenture for Coop at Expo Milano 2015, which you can see in action here.

Marco Pedroni, President of Coop Italia, said following the positive feedback he received from the expo, the retailer got straight to work to make the concept a reality.

Accenture helped Coop to completely redesign the supermarket’s information architecture. Working with Avanade, a joint venture company between Accenture and Microsoft, Accenture helped implement the IT infrastructure, and analyse and develop point of sale touch points.

“Using their digital expertise, Accenture and Avanade have helped us redesign the grocery shopping experience through a digital journey that meets customer demand for information, engagement and functionality in a simple and intuitive way,” said Pedroni.

Alberto Pozzi, managing director in Accenture’s Retail Practice in Italy, commented, “Coop is shaping the future of supermarkets by combining hyper personalisation, deep product information and connected devices in-line with customer buying journeys. We are looking forward to continued collaboration and bringing future innovation straight into the hands of Coop’s customers.”

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