Microsoft Strikes New Partnership In China As It Pushes Into Grocery Tech Market

A strategic partnership has been struck between Microsoft’s China arm and the Chinese retail tech company Hanshowm, the software giant said. The two companies will work on offering cloud based software for store operators globally.

This is the latest venture for Microsoft in a retail industry that is facing the pressure of shifting fast towards online channels. Most retail companies follow an omni-channel retail structure – which is essentially the integration of offline with internet based sales strategies, and includes grocery delivery whose demand has grown significantly because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In recent years, there has been massive and numerous disruptions in the global retail industry, said Joe Bao, China strategy officer for Microsoft, while speaking at the signing ceremony at the software company’s Beijing office.

Bao said in Mandarin, which was translated by media outlets, that the Chinese partnership of Microsoft is aimed not only for the Chines market but also to bring China’s technology overseas. This agreement was made after five years of Microsoft working with Hanshow, he said.

Microsoft has set up its biggest overseas research and development center in China since it had entered the market in 1992. This partnership comes at a time when the relationship between the United States and China is tense and both Chinese and American companies are operating in a tense political environment with the tensions between the two countries focused on trade and technology.

A technical system that aids workers to shorten the time that is usually taken to pack a produce for delivery as well as electronic store shelf labels which are able to reflect price changes in real time are among the products offered by the Chinese company, it said.

A cloud based technology that gives the opportunity for a retailer to simultaneously see the temperatures of fresh produce in stores all around the world is also sold by it, Hanshow says.

Collaboration on internet-connected, or internet of things, technology will be included in the partnership.

Gao Bo, chief architect at Hanshow, said in a television interview following the signing ceremony, tghat Microsoft’s Office 365 software such as Word, and Dynamics 365, a cloud-based customer relationship management system will be used by Hanshow as part of the partnership. The two companies will jointly launch a research and development team and share their global client network, he also said.

The website of Hanshow, which was founded in Beijing about a decade ago, says that the company has offices in Germany, France, the Netherlands, Denmark and Australia. According to the company, the Chinese firm has just opened a new branch office in the United States.

Gao said that one of Hanshow’s important business strategies is globalization. Understanding local laws and culture is one of the first steps that the company takes when entering a foreign market, he claimed. He further reiterated that international trade tensions have not had any significant impact on his own work.

“Offline stores aren’t going to die out,” Gao said, adding that “the uncertainty in the future is what the ratio will be.”

(Adapted from CNBC.com)

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