Photo courtesy of Sainsbury's

Sainsbury’s agrees to 5-year deal with Microsoft to put AI at centre of store operations

Produce Business report

Supermarkets, always looking to become more efficient while promoting quality especially in fresh produce, know technology is crucial to meeting demand in 2024 from consumers and shareholders. 

Seizing on that potential, British retailer Sainsbury’s recently entered into a five-year partnership with Microsoft Corp. that it hopes can leverage Microsoft’s AI and machine learning “capabilities” to help in its Next Level strategy. 

Sainsbury’s officials say the move should help boost overall store operations, empowering colleagues with real-time data, while improving customer service and bottom lines. 

With the collaboration and in its annoucement, the retailer made its top goal fairly clear. 

“Our collaboration with Microsoft will accelerate our ambition to become the UK’s leading AI-enabled grocer,” said Clodagh Moriarty, Sainsbury’s Chief Retail and Technology Officer. “It’s one of the key ways we’re investing in transforming our capabilities over the next three years, enabling us to take another big leap forward in efficiency and productivity, continue to provide leading customer service and deliver returns for our shareholders.” 

Here are three ways Sainsbury’s says it expects the deal to be transformational: 

  • Enhanced customer experiences: Sainsbury’s will use generative AI to create a more interactive online shopping experience and improve customers’ search experience, making shopping more efficient and engaging. 
  • Empowered store colleagues: Store colleagues will have real-time data and insights for key processes, like smarter shelf replenishment processes. Using AI to pull together multiple data inputs, such as shelf edge cameras, colleagues will be guided to the shelves that need replenishing; saving valuable time as well as ensuring sales opportunities aren’t missed. Sainsbury’s store colleagues will have more time to focus on the things that matter to customers, with access to AI-guided support to address customer and colleague queries effectively in the moment, improving efficiency and enabling the delivery of leading service for Sainsbury’s customers. 
  • Data powering the Sainsbury’s business, built on smart cloud foundations: Sainsbury’s data assets combined with Microsoft 365 collaboration tools, generative AI and machine learning capabilities will enable Sainsbury’s to continue driving returns through its Save and invest to win programme, transforming operations, driving better decision making and running a more efficient business. This will be delivered through Microsoft Azure as part of Sainsbury’s cloud ecosystem.” 

Clare Barclay, CEO of Microsoft UK, lauded the step by Sainsbury’s: “Today, Sainsbury’s has laid out a bold vision that puts AI at the heart of its business, accelerating the development of new services, which will enhance and transform the customer and colleague experience. We are delighted to be working with Sainsbury’s to power the next generation of retail.” 



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