Supermarket chain taps AI to improve automated replenishment

Time-starved shoppers expect their favorite grocers to have the staples they need when they enter the store — and supermarkets are hard-pressed to deliver.
 
U.K. grocer Morrisons is addressing this customer demand by adopting artificial intelligence to optimize replenishment and automate ordering among 26,000 ambient and long-life product SKUs in all its 491 stores. The Blue Yonder Replenishment Optimization technology automatically analyzes sales data and other data sources from Morrisons, and combines this with external data, such as weather forecasts and public holidays. 
 
By applying data to the system’s machine learning algorithms, the solution learns as it goes and can manage a vast and complex amount of data to make highly accurate ordering decisions. This automated analysis can predict the level of demand down to the individual product and store location. Blue Yonder’s technology then fully automates ordering per store and per product.
 
Based on cloud technology, the system provides a low total cost of ownership and is highly scalable.
 
Since it launched in 2016, the technology processes data across the chain’s 491 stores, automates over 13 million ordering decisions per day, and has reducing shelf gaps by up to 30%, the company said. 
 
“Our new automated ordering system has been our biggest new initiative. The system is capital light, and utilizes cloud technology and store-specific historic sales data to forecast stock requirements,” Morrisons’ CEO, David Potts said. “It is reducing costs and stock levels, while also saving time for colleagues, and providing a better offer for customers.”
 
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