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Microsoft Industry Blogs

One of the key global sectors set to see significant disruption by technology in 2018 is retail. With retailers of all sizes and across all channels dealing with issues such as the rise of online competitors and changing consumer demographics, boardroom agendas are firmly set on how to protect future profitability during challenging times.
Channel shift from the high street to digital transactions (including the web and mobile channels), uncertainty over economic growth in developed economies and a more demanding consumer base when it comes to the retail experience, are all on decision-makers’ minds as we head into the new year.

AI for store replenishment and price optimization in retail

Next generation technologies, in particular artificial intelligence (AI), are starting to find their best home in retail, including grocery, fashion and general merchandising. Not least because the significant business value that AI can deliver to retailers of all sizes and shapes is quickly moving beyond the hype and getting the recognition it deserves.
Stock replenishment and price optimization are two of the most critical areas in which AI is being effectively applied. Morrisons, a major UK supermarket chain, is using AI to accurately predict customer demand and order the right level of stock to satisfy this demand. This replaces Morrisons’ traditional model of stock replenishment, which was done mostly through manual processes performed by in-store teams. These processes are time consuming and inaccurate, leading to high waste or out-of-stock rates.
AI has enabled Morrisons to profitably respond on a daily basis to demand factors across the supply chain, inventory and pricing to drive competitive advantage. Our machine learning solutions translate the business strategy of the retailer into thousands of daily replenishment and pricing decisions. The Blue Yonder Demand Forecast & Replenishment solution has enabled Morrisons to reduce shelf gaps in its stores by 30 percent and a two to three day decrease in stockholding in-store.

Effective AI requires a robust infrastructure

This is all well and good, but effective implementation and application of AI requires a robust, scalable and reliable infrastructure to support it, and that’s why Blue Yonder’s award-winning, pioneering AI solution for retailers is built upon Microsoft Azure, as our primary cloud and data platform. Azure enables Blue Yonder’s customers to use AI to optimize existing processes, increase opportunities for sales, as well as drive innovation in retail. In addition to this, Azure ensures that Blue Yonder’s technology is highly scalable across thousands of products and hundreds of locations.

Showcasing the benefits at the NRF Big Show

In recognition of this relationship, we are delighted to be joining Microsoft at the National Retail Federation (NRF) Big Show, on the 14th – 16th January 2018, at New York’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.
AI is one of the key topics we expect to be discussed at length at the upcoming show, and we’ll be meeting customers and prospects from across the globe to talk about how AI can deliver real business value to retail organizations. Visitors are welcome to join us on our booth, which will take on the persona of a typical grocery store struggling with the big players, growing complexity and higher consumer expectations. You’ll also be able to see our Demand Forecast & Replenishment solution in action at Morrisons, delivering 13 billion decisions each day across 500 stores, and significant gains in customer satisfaction and sales growth.
We’d love to speak to you further about how AI can transform your retail processes at the NRF Big Show on 14th – 16th January 2018! Call us now to set up an appointment, or come and find us on Microsoft’s stand 2803.