Coles has inked a partnership with Microsoft that sees the shopping giant adopt Azure as its cloud platform of choice. The move is aimed at accelerating digital transformation to enhance customer experience and improve business productivity.
The announcement is the latest in a series of global partnerships and developments through which Coles is building its technology and digital capability.
According to Coles, the migration to Azure will enable Coles to drive simplicity and efficiency in its operations.
It said the goal is to build an enterprise data platform that will power advanced analytics across Coles and enable the rapid deployment of artificial intelligence (AI) technology to drive innovation in physical stores and through the supply chain.
“As a proudly Australian retailer for the past 105 years, Coles has constantly evolved to meet the needs of our customers – from a single general merchandise store in Melbourne to the first supermarkets and now same-day delivery to customers’ kitchen benchtops,” said Coles chief information and digital officer Roger Sniezek.
“This strategic partnership builds on our long-standing relationship with Microsoft and will enable the Smarter Selling pillar of our strategy through efficiency and pace of change. We’re very confident that Microsoft will empower us to achieve more.”
Sniezek said the move to the Azure cloud will help Coles simplify operations and deliver at pace.
“The Azure-based Enterprise Data Platform will allow us to execute advanced analytics and artificial intelligence across all areas of our business at extreme scale. Dynamics 365 will power a few of our business units, driving simplicity, speed, and robust processes.
“Coupled with the innovation lab and full executive support from Microsoft, this is an incredibly broad strategic partnership that demonstrates Coles’ commitment to win together with our team members, suppliers and the communities we serve in our second century,” Sniezek said.
Coles said the use of Azure AI services will bolster Coles’ ability to use a variety of customer insights to drive decision making and better tailor its range to meet the needs of customers and how they like to shop. These decisions will be based on deeper data analysis from its proprietary research, flybuys and customer transactions.
Meanwhile, a key part of Coles’ Smarter Selling strategy is in its stores, where team members will be provided with a range of new tools that will transform how they work, such as removing manual tasks for repetitive activities like stock management and price markdowns. These changes will boost productivity and allow them to focus on the things that matter most to customers, the company said.
Coles will also deploy Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 enterprise resource planning solution in its Coles Express and meat manufacturing businesses to create simpler, more efficient and robust operations that empower team members.
It will also deploy Microsoft’s Modern Workplace suite of technologies including Office 365 in a bid to achieve more agile ways of working.
Additionally, Microsoft will provide tailored training for Coles’ digital and technology teams so they have the necessary skills to exploit the full potential of the new platforms.