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Tesco uses AI to stock shelves, route drivers with Google Assistant

Scott Carey | May 11, 2017
The online retailer embraces machine learning.

Tesco now integrates with Google Home, allowing customers to add an item to their basket at any time using voice commands. Then, if they have a delivery slot already booked it will amend and checkout that order, or if they don't, then items will be added to the basket for next time.

The idea is that Tesco can start to better personalise its services for customers, such as the AI that spots missing items from a user's basket which then automatically suggests that it gets added. This is similar to the work being done at Ocado with TensorFlow to personalise and optimise the shopping basket when shopping for groceries online.

One example of an employee-facing machine learning project at Tesco includes better in-store routing algorithms to reduce the walking distance Tesco Online personal shoppers take when picking items in stores.

These staff members pick 1.5 billion items a year and Mesrobian says that by optimising their routes using machine learning algorithms the retailer has been able to reduce the average walking time of these staff by 20 percent, which most importantly allows them to complete more orders.

A similar use case is around van routing and scheduling for better efficiency for drivers. Mesrobian calls this a "deep computation problem" but the goal is to have vans making more efficient delivery routes to reduce their impact on the environment.

Tesco has also been using computer vision algorithms through its static in-store cameras to tackle item availability so that store staff can better react to empty shelves to get them restocked quicker, cutting down on customer disappointment.


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