26th Jun 2018
Marks & Spencer is partnering with Microsoft in a bid to become a “digital-first retailer”. The two organisations will work together to explore how technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) can be used to both improve customer experience in a retail environment and optimise operations.
The partnership forms the first stage in M&S’s technological transformation plans, announced back in January. Specialist AI engineers from Microsoft are currently working with the M&S Retail Labs team to implement a digital revolution in-store.
“M&S is transforming into a digital-first retailer, at a time when the sector is undergoing a customer-led revolution,” commented M&S chief executive Steve Rowe. “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,” he continued.
Cindy Rose, chief executive of Microsoft UK, referred to the retail sector as “one of the most challenging landscapes in the UK right now, adding that the partnership would “explore how AI can help such an iconic brand transform the customer experience and improve wider operations”.
The news comes at a period of uncertainty for the retailer, which confirmed it would be closing more than 100 of its stores by 2022. It hopes that investing in new technologies such as AI will help future-proof the business and enable it to stay relevant in a time when more and more people are choosing to shop online.
As other retailers inevitably follow suit and start to explore the potential of technology to enhance their in-store offerings, The Institute of Customer Service will be launching its own research on AI and customer experience next month.