In mid-January 2018, Blue Yonder headed over the Atlantic to New York’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, to attend the NRF 2018: Retail’s Big Show with its strategic technology partner, Microsoft. With the theme of “Putting AI into Retail”, Blue Yonder showcased its work with Morrisons in the UK to a broad range of industry professionals. 36,500 attendees from all over the world (including 16,000 retailers), came to the show to talk about all of the latest developments in retail and their impact on the industry – from Supply Chain, to Blockchain.
While a backdrop of global economic uncertainty provided some food for thought for attendees across the three days, the need to innovate and digitally transform to reduce costs, streamline and improve customer loyalty and profitability meant stakeholders from across the retail industry made the three-day event the busiest in a long time. The Blue Yonder personnel on the Microsoft stand noticed a significant increase in non-US retailers, brands and providers attending the show. This was a fact illustrated by the show’s official figures, which reported that over a quarter (26%) of attendees travelled from outside the US, including from the UK, Germany, Brazil, South Korea and Japan, who were among the top 10 most represented.
Agile, responsive and digitally-forward retail
Digitization, Computer Vision, Agile and Adaptive Supply Chain were some of many different names for the same theme at Retail’s Big Show, with visitors looking to get a better understanding of the impact of next generation technologies on the entire retail spectrum. Intelligent cloud computing, with the likes of Microsoft Azure leading the way in underpinning one of the most significant recent technological developments, was noted by many as the enabler of innovation in retail. Artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things, Blockchain, and the gig economy were cited as examples of technologies demanding a shift towards high-performance and scalable cloud-based infrastructure. It was clear that the significant and tangible impact that AI can deliver to retailers of all sizes and shapes is quickly moving beyond the hype and getting the recognition it deserves!
At the show, we met with many existing and prospective customers to talk about how AI can deliver real business value to retail organizations. Stock replenishment and price optimization are two of the most critical areas in which AI is being effectively applied. The Blue Yonder booth at the Microsoft stand was fashioned to look like typical grocery store struggling with the big players, growing complexity and higher consumer expectations, but with a difference! 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 – thus optimizing store replenishment and automating complex decisions across the entire value chain.
By showcasing our work with Morrisons, we could demonstrate how our technology is able to lower waste levels, optimize pricing and reduce shelf gaps. Visitors to our booth learned how Blue Yonder delivers 13 billion decisions each day across 500 stores and 26,000 SKUs, leading to a wealth of benefits including a 30% reduction in shelf gaps, a lower in-store stock holding by 2-3 days, and an improved customer experience, driving a significant uplift in sales revenues.
Built on Microsoft Azure, our primary cloud and data platform
The robust, scalable and reliable infrastructure of the Microsoft Azure cloud platform ensures that Blue Yonder’s AI technology for retailers works. Microsoft Azure enables Blue Yonder’s customers to use AI to optimize existing processes, increase opportunities for sales, as well as drive innovation in retail – across multiple sites and even international borders. Microsoft Azure ensures that Blue Yonder implementations are fast-to-market, enabling retailers to deploy the new technology quickly and seamlessly. While living up to the highest security standards, retailers can operate with agility.
The NRF Big Show is the retail industry’s biggest and most important event for decision-makers involved at any point in the retail continuum. With some exciting developments in 2018, we look forward to seeing everyone again at the next show in 2019.