Microsoft has partnered with US retail chain Kroger to connect supermarket shelves to its Azure cloud platform.

The connected shelves use digital displays instead of paper tags to display prices, information about promotions and nutrition, and advertising.

The displays can also help shoppers find items. Customers can use Kroger’s phone app to guide them to items on their shopping list and corresponding shelves display an icon to show where the item is.

Kroger’s staff members can use the same system to find items for its customers who order goods online.

Kroger is piloting the technology in two US stores. The stores also have IOT sensors to collect data about customer movements. Retailers could potentially use that data to target personalised offers and advertisements, according to Microsoft.

They could also sell advertising space on shelves.

Microsoft and Kroger also plan to bring a retail-as-a-service product to market – bringing together sensor networks, phone apps and store management software, with connectors to point-of-sale and inventory systems.