The John Lewis Partnership will now use artificial intelligence supported by Google Cloud to provide customers with new and improved services.
British company The John Lewis Partnership has signed a deal with Alphabet‘s Google Cloud for machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) purposes. The deal is worth £100 million and will see Google Cloud partner with John Lewis to revive its technology infrastructure and reduce expenses incurred on data storage.
The deal expands an already existing partnership between John Lewis and Google. According to The Times report, the new partnership will produce an AI customer service bot sometime this year. The companies are also already working on infusing augmented reality (AR) services into John Lewis’ offerings. The retailer has already launched a service that lets customers virtually try clothes by uploading a headshot and specifying height and weight measurements.
The John Lewis Partnership’s deal with Google covers its subsidiaries John Lewis and Waitrose. Speaking on the development Chief Technology Officer Zak Mian said customers will be able to use the company app to picture designs well before implementation.
“Imagine a world where a customer can use an image scanning feature in their John Lewis App to show our Home Design Stylists a room they’re looking to furnish, which tells us all we need to know about the intricacies of the space, layout and measurements.”
Mian added that the feature would also allow the company to offer customer recommendations tailored to their preferences based on products already owned. The exec further noted that the expansion into AI will not affect jobs. Mian says there is no plan for this expansion to cut jobs or close down stores. On the other hand, John Lewis hopes it would increase productivity among staff. Mian added that many customers still prefer personal services when shopping at the company’s stores.
John Lewis Partnership with Google May Help Shore Up Losses
Back in March, The John Lewis Partnership announced a heavy annual loss of £234m for last year. Because of the loss, the company said it could not pay its usual annual bonus. The company also hinted at job cuts, but did not specify how many staff would be affected. Last year, John Lewis paid bonuses at 3% of salaries. However, there were no bonuses paid the year before either.
Group Chair Sharon White explained the year the company had, describing it as a “tough” time. According to White, issues included product supply problems and a major fire at a warehouse in Brinklow, which caused availability problems for Waitrose. In addition, sales fell 2% to £12.25 billion.
White however promised that the company will continue to help staff in other ways. She mentioned travel, living, and childcare support, as well as a financial assistance fund.
The Chair confirmed that most of the problems were caused internally. However, she assures that there is no cause for alarm as the company still has a strong balance sheet and cash on hand totaling £1 billion.
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