Tackling the challenge of fresh produce replacement with AI

Australian supermarket giant Coles, in partnership with Relex Solutions, is aiming to change the way that fresh produce replenishment is approached with an artificial intelligence-based platform that will revolutionise its supermarkets.

Coles will use Relex Solutions’ AI platform to modernise and automate the process of fresh produce replenishment across its chain of 850+ supermarkets in the country.

According to Coles, it will connect its existing in-house analytics forecasting solution and integrate it with the platform.

This will be used for the purposes of improving stock order forecasts by taking the following factors into equation:

  • Weather
  • Past purchases
  • Local community events

In addition to automating the replenishment processes, the new approach will be a notable step towards reducing food waste.

Alongside its national chain of supermarkets, the AI-powered system will be put into action in its seven fresh product distribution centres.

Kevin Gunn, central operations and transformation executive general manager at Coles, stated that fresh produce, when compared to other aspects of running a grocery business, comes with its own unique set of challenges.

In Australia, there is the issue of:

  • Price elasticity
  • Seasonality
  • Shorter shelf life

On top of this, Australia faces the problem of diverse and complex growing seasons and regions.

Gunn believes that the solution lies in centralising the control of the replenishment model.

This will allow Coles to have a more efficient way of handling the complex supply chains and improve the customer experience at the same time.

Customers will be able to reap the rewards as they will have access to:

  • Fresher products
  • More targeted ranges
  • Improved availability

At the same time, the centralised approach to ordering fresh produce will also help reduce waste, both in the company’s current range and any new ones that it may introduce.