Accenture partners with Sainsbury’s for Google Cloud platform

14 October 2019 4 min. read
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Accenture has partnered with Sainsbury’s to help the supermarket take advantage of Google Cloud. The system of analytics developed by the partnership has enabled Sainsbury’s to put cloud data at the centre of its customer services, working with the data yielded to deliver an improved shopping experience and product offerings.

Earlier in 2019, the UK’s competition watchdog announced it would oppose a proposed multi-billion merger between two of the UK’s largest supermarkets on the grounds it will lead to price increases and a reduction in choice. Sainsbury’s and Asda had been lining up a deal to join forces as they come under pressure from new challengers such as Aldi and Lidl. Without the deal, the retailers have been forced to turn to other measures to improve their fortunes.

The big four supermarket chains of Tesco, Sainsbury’s, ASDA and Morrisons have been embroiled in an increasingly fierce price war as German discounters Aldi and Lidl – who are also investing heavily in the US – expand across the UK, with Aldi becoming the fifth-largest chain in the country. As a result, each of the biggest supermarket chains have announced job cuts in recent years as they seek to compete with the fast-growing discounters.

Accenture partners with Sainsbury's for Google Cloud platform

In September, this saw Sainsbury's – the second largest supermarket in Britain – unveil a radical five-year plan to open 120 new stores while closing over 100 undisclosed Local and Argos locations. While Chief Executive Mike Coupe repeatedly declined to comment on what this would mean for staff, it is expected the number of employees at the company will be cut, as speaking to the press, Sainsbury’s bosses explained they expect the plan will ultimately lead to cost savings of £500 million.

Beyond short-term reductions in cost that restructuring will bring, though, Sainsbury’s also has a long-term plan for improving its performance. Partnering with Accenture, Sainsbury’s commercial and technology teams are understood to be building cutting-edge machine learning solutions on the Google Cloud Platform, in order to provide new insights on what customers want and the trends driving their eating habits. The new solution uses cloud data and cloud-based analytics tools, enabling Sainsbury’s to develop predictive analytics models to spot trends and adjust inventory, providing shoppers with a better experience.

Group CIO of Sainsbury’s, Phil Jordan, said of the project, “The grocery market continues to change rapidly. We know our customers want high quality at great value and that finding innovative and distinctive products is increasingly important to them. With the help of Google Cloud Platform, we are generating new insights into how the world eats and lives, to help us stay ahead of market trends and provide an even better shopping experience for our customers.”

Global consulting firm Accenture has had a close relationship with Google Cloud for some time. Accenture created its Cloud First Applications team in 2015, and acquired a number of firms, including Cloud Sherpas later that year, to boost the group’s reputation, capabilities and client-base quickly. The two firms even forged an alliance to launch a new business group last year. The joint-venture sees the pair help companies use Google Cloud to develop intelligent solutions which leverage data-driven insights and Accenture’s industry knowledge.

Adrian Bertschinger, Managing Director for retail, Accenture, commented, “This project is also a great example of the successes our customers have when they work with our partners. We’re delighted to partner with Google Cloud to help the Sainsbury’s Commercial team apply predictive analytics to the identification of new and emerging trends in grocery. The food sector is experiencing significant, rapid disruption, and this new, cloud-based insights platform will help Sainsbury’s identify trends much earlier and adapt their product assortment in a faster, more informed way – all for the benefit of customers.”

As the retail segment faces intense difficulties, with rising import costs and declining consumer spending power hitting the high street hard ahead of Brexit, many players are turning to analytics to provide vital insights on their customers. Companies would do well to take care over such an approach, however, with the majority of customers still uncomfortable with their habits being tracked by stores and their partners.