UK supermarket Morrisons is using artificial intelligence from predictive applications company Blue Yonder to replenish stock in its stores.
In a bid to drive efficiency and improve its customer service, the supermarket has deployed a system that uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to predict what stock is needed, when and where at Morrisons’ 491 stores.
The deployment, which will include all 491 stores and will affect all product lines apart from clothing, follows a successful 18 month trial, according to City A.M.
AI algorithms to reduce gaps on shelves
To build the algorithm, Morrisons provided Blue Yonder with three years worth of sales data, plus precise weather data for each store.
While recording which stores sell the most of certain products, like baked beans for example, the algorithm is able to learn and predict when those products will be in high demand and whether the store is stocked accordingly.
Store managers will be able to add in dates or events to help the system learn, so that during busy periods like Christmas the algorithm can make sure sufficient stock is on the shelves.
Indeed, Morrisons told City A.M. that the technology improved sales last Christmas by predicting trading patterns more accurately. This meant the supermarket could sell more products and improve the allocation of staff resources.
The algorithm has also removed the need to use iPads or the more traditional pen and paper to order goods, and Morrisons claims it helped to reduce gaps on shelves by 30 percent during the trial.
No jobs lost at Morrisons
Unlike the approach taken by technology giant Amazon to do away with checkouts at its Amazon Go store, no jobs will be lost at Morrisons, according to a spokesperson.
In fact, the spokesperson said that employees will actually spend more time improving the experience for customers by being on the shop floor.
Meanwhile, Markus Juhr-De Benedetti, chief revenue officer at Blue Yonder, said: “We are delighted to have supported Morrisons in improving their product availability and therefore better serving their customers. The retail landscape is changing faster today than ever before; Blue Yonder’s mission is to provide a competitive advantage to retailers through machine learning.”