British supermarket chain Waitrose has expanded its partnership with Blue Yonder to incorporate the latter’s advanced demand-forecasting capability. 

The move will enable the retailer to implement artificial intelligence (AI) across its supply chain. 

Waitrose will be able to refine the high availability levels across its stores by leveraging AI to better understand customer behaviour and purchasing patterns. 

The AI forecasting capability, a component of Blue Yonder Demand Planning, shifts its focus from historical sales data to the reasons behind customer purchases.  

It analyses influences on buying behaviour, such as weather changes, events and promotions, to provide a more accurate forecast.  

The technology can enhance on-shelf availability and allow store partners to concentrate on strategic, customer-focused tasks rather than manual ordering. 

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The retailer anticipates that the improved forecasting will not only boost customer satisfaction scores but also enable a more dynamic response to demand fluctuations, reduce waste and assess risks by evaluating different forecasting outcomes. 

Waitrose supply chain director Alison Maffin said: “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.  

“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.” 

Waitrose’s investment is part of a broader commitment to upgrading its supply chain.   

In November 2023, the retailer integrated a new suite of AI-driven tools to improve its online search and browsing experience and develop personalised experiences for customers.