Retail giant Sainsbury’s deploys AI to find out what its customers really want

What they want is food they saw on Instagram

by Max Smolaks 3 October 2019

British retailer Sainsbury’s, responsible for the second largest supermarket chain in the UK, has deployed a purpose-built machine learning platform to get a better understanding of changing customer tastes.

The platform, built by Accenture using machine learning tools available on Google Cloud, can ingest, clean and classify both structured and unstructured data from multiple sources, apply predictive analytics to find new trends in grocery shopping, and adapt the store product assortment and inventory based on new information.

“With the help of Google Cloud Platform, we are generating new insights into how the world eats and lives, to help us stay ahead of market trends and provide an even better shopping experience for our customers,” said Phil Jordan, group CIO of Sainsbury’s.

The first Sainsbury’s store opened in London 150 years ago. Today, the company runs more than 600 supermarkets and more than 800 convenience stores, processes nearly 250,000 online orders every week, and enjoys a 15.3 percent market share in the UK.

Sainsbury’s Commercial and Technology teams partnered with Accenture and GCP to create a platform that could help the retailer tap into the latest eating trends, which are increasingly shaped by online conversations, rather than traditional advertising.

The platform features a custom-built front-end interface for enterprise users, which simplifies navigation across countless filters and categories – after all, Sainsbury’s claims to offer more than 90,000 different products.

“The food sector is experiencing significant, rapid disruption, and this new, cloud-based insights platform will help Sainsbury’s identify trends much earlier and adapt their product assortment in a faster, more informed way—all for the benefit of customers,” commented Adrian Bertschinger, managing director for Retail at Accenture.