M&S links with Microsoft to test AI tech in stores

Marks & Spencer has announced a strategic partnership that will help it ramp up its efforts to become a digital first retailer.


CEO Steve Rowe said the partnership could be a game changer for M&S - Photo: Marks & Spencer

Its new partner is none other than Microsoft, which will work together with the British retailer to test the integration of artificial intelligence technologies into its customer experience, stores and wider operations.

The link is part of M&S’s new technology approach, launched earlier this year to create a more agile, faster and commercial technology function. This strategy might be just what M&S needs to turn its reputation around after narrowly avoiding falling out of the FTSE 100 in May.

“M&S is transforming into a digital first retailer, at a time when the sector is undergoing a customer-led revolution.  We want to be at the forefront of driving value into the customer experience using the power of technology,” explained CEO Steve Rowe in a press release.

“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.”

Last month, the British brand admitted its digital operations were lagging behind those of its competitors, and said change is needed to modernise the business. In addition to closing and renewing stores more quickly, the company is focusing on upgrading its supply chains in both Clothing & Home and Food, to ensure they can reduce high stock levels in Clothing and improve availability and waste in Food.

In the year to 31 March, the group made a pre-tax profit of £581m on revenues of £10.69bn. This was down 5.4% compared with profits of £613.8m in the previous year.

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