Coles to deploy AI to drive innovation in store and supply chain

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 28: At Coles Southland on June 28, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Graham Denholm/Getty Images for Microsoft)

Coles has signed a strategic partnership with Microsoft to accelerate its digital transformation and enable the deployment of artificial intelligence (AI) technology to drive innovation in physical stores and through the supply chain. 

The supermarket giant will use cloud-based innovation to transform the shopping experience for customers, making life easier for team members and improving productivity across the business.

Together with Microsoft, Coles is building an enterprise data platform in Azure that will power advanced analytics across Coles.

“As a proudly Australian retailer for the past 105 years, Coles has constantly evolved to meet the needs of our customers – from a single general merchandise store in Melbourne to the first supermarkets and now same-day delivery to customers’ kitchen benchtops,” Roger Sniezek, Chief Information and Digital Officer at Coles said.

“As the retail industry continues to undergo massive transformation, forward thinking companies are exploring how to leverage technology to better serve their customers and employees. We are excited to bring our global retail experience to Coles. Through our partnership, we will support Coles to provide personalised, seamless experiences for shoppers using AI, offer a more productive workplace for team members through modern collaboration tools and help them unlock better business insights through our advanced analytics solutions,” Judson Althoff, Executive Vice President of Microsoft’s Worldwide Commercial Business said.

According to a media announcement, the use of Azure AI services will bolster Coles’ ability to use a variety of customer insights to drive decision making and better tailor its range to meet the needs of customers and how they like to shop. These decisions will be based on deeper data analysis from its proprietary research, flybuys and customer transactions.

In addition to more personalised customer benefits, a key part of Coles’ Smarter Selling strategy is in its stores, where team members will be provided with a range of new tools that will transform how they work, such as removing manual tasks for repetitive activities like stock management and price markdowns.

Coles will also deploy Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 enterprise resource planning solution in its Coles Express and meat manufacturing businesses to create simpler, more efficient and robust operations that empower team members.

To assist Coles in achieving more agile ways of working, as part of the company’s commitment to deliver its strategic goals for higher team member engagement and pace in execution, it will deploy Microsoft’s Modern Workplace suite of technologies including Office 365.

Microsoft will also provide tailored training for Coles’ digital and technology teams so they have the necessary skills to exploit the full potential of the new platforms.

To ensure that all these transformational initiatives can be delivered at pace, Microsoft will provide direct executive support from its global product functions.