Digital Retail Innovations Q&A – Blue Yonder

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Following the launch of the Digital Retail Innovations 2017 Report (sponsored by Webloyalty) a series of Q&A’s with the leading figures behind some of the key entries in the report are being published.

Here is a Q&A with Uwe Weiss, CEO of Blue Yonder, which is placed at number 11 in the report for its work with Otto and Morrison’s.

1.How did the original idea come about?

Professor Feindt originally created the NeuroBayes algorithm to predict the activity of quarks – the building blocks of matter – while working at CERN, the world-leading research centre in Switzerland. And it was only later that he realised the potential of his work to revolutionise retail. Rather than trying to simplify chaos, using Artificial Intelligence (AI), retailers can embrace the complexities of retail to deliver substantial efficiencies across supply chain, buying and merchandising. In 2008 Professor Feindt founded Blue Yonder, but continues to push the boundaries of AI through his work with the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and the Data Science Academy.

Now Morrison’s is using Blue Yonder’s Artificial Technology to make much more accurate predictions about exactly what stock it needs, and drastically reduce waste. Used to its full potential, Blue Yonder’s system can reduce shelf gaps up to 30 per cent, improving customer experience in-store. With a growing international customer footprint, Blue Yonder now operates across Europe and the United States.

2.What has been the level of take-up of the service and what are the key ways retailers are using it?

Take up of our AI solution for retailers, specifically in the grocery and fashion sectors, has been extremely positive. This is, in part, due to the fact that AI is an enabler for digital transformation (DX) and innovation in retail, which can work with existing systems to provide greater efficiency and results. Grocers, such as Morrison’s, and fashion retailer, OTTO, have used our solutions to deliver decisions daily to optimise their pricing and to reduce waste, while ensuring that profit margins remain robust.

It is, however, important to note that AI isn’t just for the big players, in fact, the technology allows smaller brands and retailers to compete with the online giants – thanks to the efficiency the solution provides and the speed from which AI strategies produce value. DX through AI is no longer a question of ‘if’ for retailers, but just a matter of ‘when’. Today’s reality is that any retailer, with the right data, can start implementing AI technology for their business and cash in on the benefits it provides.

Our solutions allow for millions of daily operational decisions to be made instantly, based on holistic data and insight, while taking into consideration external factors. This enables retailers to free up staff time, so that rather than trawling through enormous data sets and discussing next steps, they can instead concentrate on providing the customer with the best possible experience, safe in the knowledge that the best possible decision has already been made.

3.What about competition in this area?

Blue Yonder is the leading AI solution provider for retail in Europe, especially when it comes to supply chain and merchandising processes for retailers. Some of the reasons why we’re not threatened by current competition are because Blue Yonder offers a rapid speed to value, with return on investment guaranteed within three to six months. We’ve one of the largest worldwide data science teams that specialise in retail. Blue Yonder offers the most accurate forecasts in the industry with superior machine learning technology and talent.

The solution enables millions of decisions to be automatically made based on holistic insights. And Blue Yonder closes the gap between strategy and execution and enables an accelerated time to value through automated decisions

4.How has the solution been developed / advanced over time?

The solution is continually evolving. For example, not only does it accurately align current supply versus demand levels, but will be able to forecast these volumes. These predictions are calculated using a vast amount of data available from the retailer, and also takes into account external factors, such as the weather.

5.Have there been any surprises along the way?

One surprise is the sheer rate at which AI is evolving. AI has become a true game changer for the retail industry, and will be the technology of the future. If retailers fail to adopt AI technology, they will struggle to survive in the new digital age where acting on insights – based on huge data sets – has become the new norm.

6.What can we expect from Blue Yonder in the future?

You can expect to see further exciting development to our supply chain and merchandising. In addition, we will also be looking to explore new areas of operations in retail where AI can deliver real value.

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