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Waitrose aims to improve stock forecasting with Blue Yonder

John Lewis Partnership-owned Waitrose has extended its collaboration with Panasonic’s supply chain management platform Blue Yonder to improve the supermarket chain’s forecasting capabilities.

The move will introduce artificial intelligence (AI) into Waitrose’s forecasting, removing a reliance on historical sales data and human intuition for stock availability. The AI forecasting capability – part of Blue Yonder Demand Planning – focuses on customer behaviour and why they buy products.

It’s designed to learn from the trading environment to provide better forecasting based on customer behaviour. This includes taking into account how customers respond to influences such as weather variations, major sporting and cultural events, and promotions.

 “Whether we are planning for a major sporting final or the first cold snap of the winter, there can be multiple factors affecting what our customers buy,” said Alison Maffin, Supply Chain Director at Waitrose. “The Blue Yonder solution will learn from previous experience and help us predict this more accurately so we can be confident we have the stock our customers want. This will allow us to produce a much more accurate forecast for our suppliers and logistics partners but will also result in less wastage and better availability for our customers.’’

By adopting the technology, Waitrose hopes it will increase customer satisfaction, ensure it can ingest and analyse swathes of data without overwhelming users, improve risk assessment, better determine stock levels, and be able to automatically respond to demand fluctuations quickly and with accuracy.

“A better forecast is crucial for retailers, and we are thrilled and proud to support Waitrose with their goals of enhancing customer experience and meeting sustainability goals,” said Gael Ramaen, Corporate Vice President, Retail, EMEA at Blue Yonder. “This builds on the already successful deployment of Blue Yonder Fulfilment and Warehouse Management solutions used within their organisation.”