Kingfisher, a major home improvement retailer with more than 2,000 stores in Europe, has developed an internal AI orchestration platform called Athena.

This platform aims to streamline the development and deployment of AI-powered features across its various brands, including B&Q, Screwfix, Castorama, Brico Dépôt, and Koçtaş.

Previously, Kingfisher relied on individual AI microservices for tasks such as product recommendations and demand forecasting.

However, building and managing these services became time-consuming and limited scalability.

Athena acts as a central hub, connecting these microservices and selecting the right one for a specific user query. This reduces development time, allowing Kingfisher to bring new AI features to market faster.

Security is a core function of Athena. Built on Google Cloud Platform (GCP), it leverages Vertex AI to ensure a secure and compliant environment for AI models.

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Additionally, Athena integrates seamlessly with various GCP services such as Vertex AI Search and Model Garden, providing greater flexibility and adaptability in its solutions.

For instance, Athena can utilise different language models to personalise product descriptions or search results for customers across various European markets.

This ensures a smooth and relevant user experience regardless of location.

Kingfisher highlights the success of its B&Q marketplace launch, where product offerings grew tenfold in two years.

Here, Athena played a crucial role by powering the recommendation engine, which doubled its conversion rate and now contributes more than 10% of B&Q’s online sales.

Looking ahead, Kingfisher plans to leverage Athena for even more advanced features.

This includes functionalities such as visual search, allowing customers to find replacement parts simply by uploading a photo.

Internally, Athena can be used to create AI assistants, including ‘Hello Casto’, which provides DIY guidance for Castorama customers.

The platform’s modular design enables rapid development and replication of such AI assistants across all Kingfisher brands.

Kingfisher emphasises the importance of sustainable AI practices. GCP’s built-in sustainability monitoring allows it to make eco-friendly decisions while architecting AI solutions.

By centralising and accelerating AI development, Kingfisher’s Athena platform empowers it to deliver a faster, more secure, and personalised shopping experience for its customers across Europe.