BWG Foods to use AI platform to predict customer purchases

17 Jan 2022

Chris Donnelly. Image: BWG Foods

ShopLink Pro uses predictive AI to analyse data from hundreds of data points, to better predict stock requirements for retail stores.

BWG Foods is launching a predictive AI stock management system to help retailers predict what customers are going to buy.

The system is called ShopLink Pro, a new version of its current ordering platform ShopLink. It is being developed by US-based AI developer R4 Technologies. BWG plans to utilise the new platform across its retail network including Spar, Eurospar, Mace, Londis and XL stores.

The AI platform processes existing data from the full retail network currently using BWG’s Shoplink system while gathering 240 additional data points including weather, local events, social media and demographic data.

The system uses this data to make an analysis of predicted consumer demand for in-store products, allowing for smarter forecasting of stock requirements. It also considers business promotions and category management to deliver a 21-day, 14-day and 7-day sales forecast.

The new platform will be trialled in 22 stores within the BWG Foods retail estate. If successful it will be provided to the company’s network of more than 1,000 stores nationwide.

“ShopLink Pro has the potential to be a real game changer for our retailers in 2022, transforming how they manage their offerings by understanding what their customers will wish to purchase in the near future,” BWG Foods CIO Chris Donnelly said. “This is a really exciting proposition that brings an added layer of intelligence to better understand what our customers are looking for across different regions and environments in Ireland at any given time.”

BWG expects its predictive AI platform to be an improvement over traditional ordering methods, which analyse what has been sold in past data to make a replenishment model. ShopLift Pro is designed to support cost saving and improved category management in the retail sector through more accurate predictions of customer behaviour.

“There is huge potential for this solution to transform our operations in relation to category management and product waste, logistics, stock management and to create a genuinely tailored in-store experience that is capable of changing with demand with intelligent predictions and forecasting,” Donnelly added.

Other retail outlets are looking into the potential benefits of AI technology in their stores. Last October, Circle K opened a checkout-free, AI-powered store in the US. This store used AI-powered cameras mounted at strategic locations throughout the store to identify the products shoppers bought and automatically recorded the purchases on a mobile app.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic