UK retailer Marks & Spencer (M&S) has entered a strategic partnership with global technology major Microsoft to test the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies into the retailer’s operations.
The announcement is part of the retailer’s business-wide digital transformation programme in a move to become a digital-first business.
As part of the deal, both companies will work collaboratively to explore the usage of AI technologies within the retail environment to improve customer experience and optimise operations.
Microsoft’s AI engineers and product personnel will partner with the M&S Retail Labs team to accelerate the digital transformation.
M&S CEO Steve Rowe said: “M&S is transforming into a digital first retailer, at a time when the sector is undergoing a customer-led revolution.
“We want to be at the forefront of driving value into the customer experience using the power of technology.
“Working together with Microsoft to understand the full potential of how technology and artificial intelligence can improve the in-store experience for our customers and the efficiencies of our wider operations could be a game changer for M&S and for retail.”
The supermarket chain also launched a five-year transformation programme in November to restore the basis for future growth.
Under the programme, the retailer announced various initiatives, including a slowdown in its Simply Food store opening programme, the UK store estate closure programme, sale and franchise of its retail business in Hong Kong, and Macau, enhancing its clothing and home logistics network.