SPAR Ireland spearheads AI-enabled technology to create a smart stock management system

January 19, 2022 IN THE CATEGORY: Digital and Marketing, Supply Chain

SPAR operator BWG Foods has become the first grocery retailer in Ireland to spearhead a smart ordering platform, ShopLink Pro, as part of a new pilot scheme across its retail network. The platform was developed by US-based AI leader R4 Technologies.

Traditional ordering platforms rely on past data, creating a replenishment-based order by analysing what has sold, taking into account safety stock to predict what retailers should purchase.

However, this pioneering solution, built onto the SPAR operator’s award-winning e-commerce system, continually uses predictive intelligence to make daily forecasts based on what consumers will wish to purchase in the future.

SPAR Ireland will trial ShopLink Pro in 22 stores within its retail estate. On successful completion, the business will look to provide the solution to independent retailers across its network nationwide.

Smarter forecasting

Overlaying an artificial intelligence (AI) module to the existing retail platform, ShopLink Pro processes the EPOS Data from the full retail network while gathering 240 additional data points, from weather and local events to social media and demographic census data. The system uses the data to compile an analysis of predicted consumer demand for instore products. This allows for smarter forecasting of stock requirements.

Additionally, the solution considers business promotions and category management to deliver a 21-day, 14-day, and 7-day sales forecast. Retailers will benefit from creating a fully automated daily replenishment order of goods. The system also suggests new products to specific stores to enhance sales and meet local consumer needs.

Using the most advanced AI platform and suite of algorithms available in the market, R4 has designed the solution to support cost savings in the retail sector. The system helps deliver more effective category management and ensures retailers can consistently meet customers’ demands by taking advantage of opportunities arising locally.

ShopLink Pro will also provide SPAR Ireland with a complete view of the demand for products across its supply chain in a way that was never available previously. The solution will be fully integrated with the retailers’ existing ShopLink platform, following an upskilling programme for retailers.

Potential game-changer

BWG Foods Chief Information Officer Chris Donnelly said: “ShopLink Pro has the potential to be a real game-changer for our retailers in 2022, transforming how they manage their offerings by understanding what their customers will wish to purchase in the near future. This is a really exciting proposition that brings an added layer of intelligence to better understand what our customers are looking for across different regions and environments in Ireland at any given time.”

“There is huge potential for this solution to transform our operations in relation to category management and product waste, logistics, stock management. [There is also potential] to create a genuinely tailored in-store experience capable of changing with demand with intelligent predictions and forecasting.”

Source: SPAR Ireland

Read more about SPAR in Ireland

About SPAR Ireland

SPAR Ireland was established in 1963. It is operated by a leading wholesale and retail company, BWG Foods, now a subsidiary of SPAR Group Ltd Southern Africa.

With a presence across the Republic of Ireland, SPAR is one of the country’s largest convenience retail groups. In developing the business, SPAR Ireland has a long track record of recognising the strategic importance of new retail concepts. It operates three of the four SPAR formats: SPAR, EUROSPAR, and SPAR Express. These three formats bring consumers a comprehensive range of innovative products and instore offerings.