Apps that Kroger developed with Google and Deloitte are now prioritizing meaningful work for the grocer’s associates.
Uncovering the Value
In response to a question about the value of these types of solutions to grocers, Gomes notes that they can counter the “tremendous amount of downtime” and “lack of productivity” caused by problems like late trucks or not enough associates showing up for a shift by giving companies the ability to reprioritize tasks. He also points to the ability to figure out the most valuable task, which can be measured in various ways, among them “the highest gross margin activity … based on how much I’m going to sell of each product, and how much margin I make from them,” or “the most loyalty-driving activity that I could be doing.” Then there are the sudden urgent items that arise, like “a spillage in aisle six … that takes precedence over restocking the popcorn.”
What the agile, real-time solutions developed with Kroger and Deloitte aim to do is “reduce idle time by giving people better information[;] focus [users] on the most important activities, and that’s defined by the retailer”; and enable a change of plan in response to unexpected schedule deviations, observes Gomes, who adds, “Underpinning [these solutions] is a platform that continues to learn, continues to get smarter and continues to make better recommendations as time goes on.”
Having just been at the NRF Show in New York in January, Gomes notes that Google’s AI technology is seeking to address some of the top issues discussed at the event, such as associate experience, which he deems “front and center,” through solutions that enable hands-free picking and tell workers when items are out of stock, respectively; supply chain visibility from distribution centers to stores, using machine learning along with AI to determine fair allocation; and reducing friction in the customer experience by recommending the best products for customers and enabling them “to find the products that they’re looking for, even when they don’t know exactly the name of that product.”