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Microsoft pushes into the growing grocery tech market with a new deal in China

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MSFTA person walks past a Microsoft logo at the Microsoft office in Beijing, China August 4, 2020.Thomas Peter | Reuters

BEIJING — Microsoft‘s China arm announced Thursday a strategic partnership with Chinese retail tech company Hanshow to collaborate on cloud-based software for store operators worldwide.

The deal marks Microsoft’s latest foray into a retail industry that is being forced to accelerate a shift online. The integration of offline with internet-based sales strategies is known as omni-channel retail, and includes grocery delivery, demand for which surged in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Retail is one of the industries that’s seen some of the biggest disruptions in recent years, Joe Bao, China strategy officer for Microsoft, said at a signing ceremony at the software company’s Beijing offices.

The partnership is not just for the China market, but also for bringing China’s technology overseas, Bao said in Mandarin, according to a CNBC translation. He said the agreement comes after five years of Microsoft working with Hanshow.

The American software company entered China in 1992, where it has its biggest overseas research and development center. The strategic partnership comes as U.S. and Chinese companies operate in an increasingly tense political environment that has focused on trade