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Asda turns to AI as it accelerates multi-channel transformation strategy driven by return to UK ownership

Asda is using smartphone technology to improve accessibility. Image courtesy of Asda

Leading UK supermarket chain Asda is instigating an accelerated digital transformation strategy to better manage its end-to-end operations now that it has become a UK-based company once again.

Asda, which is made up of a series of supercentres, superstores, and smaller supermarkets, along with petrol filling stations and Asda Living stores, which offers clothing and home merchandise lines, was recently purchased by a consortium of UK-based brothers Zuber and Mohsin Issa and private equity firm TDR Capital from US giant Wal-mart in a £6.8bn deal. As part of this change of ownership, the retailer is now looking to transition from its legacy solutions to an end-to-end retail solutions that would cover commercial, supply chain, logistics and retail operations. This includes artificial intelligence- (AI) powered forecasting, end-to-end supply chain visibility, omni-channel fulfilment, and workforce management capabilities. 

To do this, the retailer, which employs more than 140,000 colleagues serving more than 18 million customers who shop in its stores and online weekly, has teamed up with tech company Blue Yonder to leverage its SaaS capabiliites.

Under the deal, Asda will use machine learning (ML) at scale to provide a demand projection with calculated business impact and risk that enables better inventory management, waste reduction and an improved understanding of demand drivers and customer behaviours. It will also leverage ML to optimise pricing strategies reducing excess stock and avoiding waste.

The retailer is also looking to deliver efficiency and value across the entire omni-channel retail business with a connected platform, that will bring together visibiliuty and forecasting across the whole business, including fulfilment and transportation. It is also set to have better visibility of both domestic and import orders ensuring products are available to meet consumer demand at the right place, at the right time.

The deal will also provide Asda colleagues in stores and in distribution centres with a robust workforce management capability.

“We are embarking on a large-scale, exciting business transformation project to build our Future, in which we want to work with the very best retail technology providers in the market with proven experience and world-class capabilities. We are looking forward to implementing this project with our strategic partner Blue Yonder, as we continue to build a fast, effective and agile business,” says Carl Dawson, chief information officer, Asda. 

“We are looking forward to supporting Asda with our innovative capabilities and experience. We have built a strong relationship with Asda over the years, and we have consistently demonstrated how our advanced capabilities can help them fulfil their potential and drive value, early and often. Not only are our solutions a fit for Asda’s long-term goals, so is our culture and our values. We are honoured to embark on this exciting journey with Asda and look forward to bringing value to both Asda, their partners and their customers,” adds Johan Reventberg, president, EMEA, Blue Yonder.

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