UK retailer John Lewis signs Google deal to harness latest artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) tech
John Lewis Partnership has expanded its decades long relationship with Google Cloud, in a new deal worth £100m ($127m) over the next five years.
The employee-owned partnership said this “collaboration marks a significant step forward in the John Lewis Partnership’s digital transformation of its much loved brands, John Lewis and Waitrose, and its ambitions to provide customers with even more tailored and personalised experiences.”
AI, machine learning
The retailer said that under the expanded agreement, “more of the organisation’s technology will migrate to Google Cloud, harnessing the cloud provider’s latest and most innovative technologies, including advanced artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML).”
It said these tools will allow staff (known as partners) to be more efficient, spend more time focusing on customers, and better use data insights to help curate great products and services.
The retailer said the investment in Google Cloud is a key element to “take its retail experience to the next level – both in-store, and via its digital platforms, including JohnLewis.com, Waitrose.com, and its owned mobile apps.”
It also will help the retailer’s ambition to create a pan-Partnership loyalty programme in 2024.
“Investing in cutting edge technology is not just a choice, it’s a necessity for a modern retailer like us,” said Nish Kankiwala, CEO at the John Lewis Partnership. “Core to our strategy is building our technology infrastructure for the long term, drawing on latest innovations to benefit our customers.”
“At the John Lewis Partnership we’ve always been focused at finding better ways to do business,” added Zak Mian, Chief Transformation and Technology Officer at the John Lewis Partnership.
“Today’s announcement marks a significant step in transforming our technology, and ensures that our Partners have the best tools to provide our customers with even more personalised experiences, across all our channels.”
Mian cited the example of a customer using an image scanning feature in their John Lewis App to show John Lewis Home Design Stylists a room they’re looking to furnish, complete with data about the intricacies of the space, layout and measurements.
This will allow the retailer to offer tailored recommendations that can also complement products a user already has.
“As an innovative British retailer with a strong commitment to customer service, the John Lewis Partnership is always looking for new ways to reinvent how it does business,” said Thomas Kurian, CEO of Google Cloud.
“By turning to Google Cloud’s leading AI and ML tools, John Lewis will help transform the Partner experience, which in turn will deliver a better and more seamless experience for its customers.”
The Partnership is hoping the deal with allow it to achieve greater cost savings and efficiencies, as both John Lewis and Waitrose struggle to compete for custom during the cost of living crises .
By using AI and machine learning algorithms, the retailer is seeking to deliver a more highly personalised shopping experience for consumers.
The partnership, which reported a £234 million loss in its 2022-23 year, is halfway through a five-year recovery plan.
It has previously stated it may seek external investment of up to £2 billion by selling a minority stake, and even change its partner owned model, although this is highly controversial.
Last year the partnership announced the first three locations where it proposes to build new rental homes to expand beyond traditional high street retailing.
The three proposed sites include building over Waitrose shops in Bromley and West Ealing in Greater London, as well as replacing a vacant John Lewis warehouse in Mill Lane, Reading.