The Wall Street Journal has a story about how grocers like Kroger are “racing to leverage” data in their efforts to maintain a competitive advantage against other bricks-and-mortar chains, as well as against Amazon.

“Food industry executives know they have to be smarter and faster to compete,” the Journal writes, and “Kroger has invested billions over the past decade and a half to hire engineers out of leading universities and away from companies recruiting talent with the same kinds of specialized skills—including data analytics, logistics and app-development.”

Kroger, the Journal writes, has developed “infrared sensors that monitor the number of customers in a store and automatically deploy checkout clerks as the number grows” as well as equipment that remotely monitors the freshness of certain produce and notifies managers the second a cooler blows out. “ There also are “shelves with sensors designed to recognize and communicate with apps on the mobile devices of certain customers,” and “a wireless scanning device it calls Scan, Bag, Go at 400 stores next year. Customers will use the device to ring up groceries as they shop, then pay for their purchases through an app.”

While Kroger has an advantage in this space - it is ahead of many supermarket chains when it comes to data mining - the Journal points out that the battle for data supremacy is becoming more pitched with virtually every passing day.

KC's View: One of the more telling passages from the story is about how Amazon “spends 12% of its sales on technology each year, compared with less than 3% at most grocers.”

There’s no question that Kroger - and virtually every other retailer - has to be better, and just as important, faster, in mining data and actually using it effectively.