AI is no longer science-fiction writers dream, it’s being implemented in industries all over the world. We look at 5 examples of how AI is revolutionising the retail experience Written by: Dale Benton
Marks and Spencer
In early 2019, M&S announced a new Technology Transformation Program, one that will allow M&S to become a digital-first business and deliver key improvements in customer experience. As part of this transformation, M&S has partnered with Microsoft to investigate and test the capabilities of technology and artificial intelligence in a retail environment. M&S will look to integrate machine learning, computer vision and AI across every endpoint – both in its stores and behind the scenes. Every surface, screen and scanner in its stores will create data – and enable employees to act upon it. Every M&S store worldwide will be able to track, manage and replenish stock levels in real time – and deal with unexpected events.
The John Lewis Partnership is currently partaking in a three-year trial, deploying robots to one of its farms, which grows produce for its Waitrose & Partners brand. The robots, named Tom, Dick and Harry, are delivered in partnership with the Small Robot Company. Each will be equipped with a camera and AI technology to gather topographical data, while autonomously obtaining accurate, plant-by-plant data in order to enable higher farming efficiency. The data will also be used to develop further machine learning capabilities. The trial will also provide the John Lewis Partnership’s Room Y innovation team with valuable insight to support innovation and inform how robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) could be used further in other areas of the business.
One of the biggest retail companies in the world has been piloting and implementing artificial intelligence solutions across its stores for a number of years. As part of a technology program, called Missed Scan Detection, Walmart has deployed AI-equipped cameras in more than 1,000 of its stores. These cameras, developed in part with Everseen, tracks and analyses activities at both self-checkout registers and those manned by Walmart employees. If an item isn’t scanned at checkout, the cameras will detect the and notific a checkout attendant of the problem. The AI technology allows Walmart to monitor its inventory product quantities, but also significantly reduce theft across its stores.
Amazon Go represents a whole n era of shipping. The concept is simple, walk into an Amazon Go store, pick up whatever you want and walk back out. The idea is to create a “Just Walk Out” experience. Described as the “most advanced shopping technology”, customers simply download the Amazon Go app. Powerful machine learning and AI technology automatically detects when products are taken from or returned to the shelves, keeping track of them all in a virtual cart. Once customers leave, Amazon will collate all of the data and produce a receipt and charge the customer’s Amazon account.
One of the UK’s largest food retailers with more than 120,000 colleagues in 494 stores serving over 11 million customers every week, Morrisons turned its attention to AI with JDA Software. Looking to vastly improve the customer experience, Morrisons looked at reducing queues at checkouts, and improving on-shelf availability. Morrisons invested in Blue Yonder – a Demand Forecast & Replenishment solution from JDA, which uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology to improve demand planning and reinvigorate replenishment based on customer behaviour in every store. Over a 12-month period, Morrisons was able to generate up to 30% reduction in shelf gaps and a 2-3 day reduction in stockholding in-store. AI technology has also enabled Morrisons to close the execution gap, optimizing availability while reducing wastage, enhancing shelf presentation and meeting stockholding targets.