Retail giant Shoprite says it is implementing a plan to digitise its business and improve efficiency by using artificial intelligence (AI) to try and create better customer experiences.
The group said that it is taking a pragmatic approach to developing new technologies to use in the retail space, noting that it has a focus on “iterative and re-usable innovation”, adding that it is not necessarily looking to reinvent the wheel.
It said that it will use technologies that – once proven – can quickly be expanded and operationalised.
“If somebody has already invented the wheel and we can use it, we’ll do that. If not, Shoprite Technology has the expertise to create the required solution ourselves in order to best serve the business, and most importantly, our customers,” it said.
Taking this approach, the group said it is working on several features and innovations that are expected to be rolled out in the coming months.
Shoprite said it has developed a machine learning algorithm to define optimal delivery regions to improve Checkers Sizty60 delivery times.
The solution overlays a map with the view of orders while using order data to determine the optimal delivery area for each store, it said.
The algorithm also considers packaging and delivery time to determine the areas which can be best served by a driver within the allocated time (60 minutes), optimising the routes drivers use by overlaying traffic data to find the best route.
The group said it has deployed a powerful end-to-end supply chain software solution to ensure highly accurate orders.
“This includes fresh produce such as poultry, cheese, eggs, milk and more, resulting in fully stocked shelves and less food waste.”
The system uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to consider many external factors when ordering ultra-fresh products, it said.
For example, using data on sales and stock data paired with extrinsic factors, the system can predict how much of a specific good is needed on shelves and informs suppliers accordingly.
Better store layout
To enhance the in-store customer experience, the group said it is applying machine learning to store floor plans and tweaking the location of shelves or tills.
“Teams are using machine learning to create 3D store tours, which in turn assists with improving store discipline, visual merchandising and developing future store design templates – all to enhance the customer journey through a store,” it said.
Shoprite said it has also developed a computer vision system called QMON to anonymously monitor queue length and waiting times. It establishes the number of customers queuing in order to reduce the wait time.