The agreement is the latest in a series of global partnerships and developments by Coles as it builds its technology and digital capability.
Coles announced on Tuesday that the long-term strategic partnership is founded on Microsoft Azure becoming its cloud platform of choice, which will enable the company to drive simplicity and efficiency in its operations by migrating its applications to Azure.
Under the deal with Microsoft, Coles is building an enterprise data platform in Azure to power advanced analytics across Coles and enable the rapid deployment of artificial intelligence (AI) technology to drive innovation in physical stores and through the supply chain.
As part of Coles’ “Smarter Selling strategy” team members in stores will be provided with a range of new tools to transform how they work, such as removing manual tasks for repetitive activities like stock management and price markdowns.
Coles will also deploy Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 enterprise resource planning solution in its Coles Express and meat manufacturing businesses aimed at creating “simpler, more efficient and robust operations that empower team members”.
The partnership will see Microsoft provide tailored training for Coles’ digital and technology teams so they have the necessary skills to exploit the full potential of the new platforms.
“This strategic partnership builds on our long-standing relationship with Microsoft and will enable the Smarter Selling pillar of our strategy through efficiency and pace of change. We’re very confident that Microsoft will empower us to achieve more,” said Coles Chief Information and Digital Officer Roger Sniezek.
“By moving to the Azure cloud we will be able to simplify our operations and deliver at pace. The Azure-based Enterprise Data Platform will allow us to execute advanced analytics and artificial intelligence across all areas of our business at extreme scale. Dynamics 365 will power a few of our business units, driving simplicity, speed, and robust processes.
“Coupled with the innovation lab and full executive support from Microsoft, this is an incredibly broad strategic partnership that demonstrates Coles’ commitment to win together with our team members, suppliers and the communities we serve in our second century.”
Judson Althoff, executive vice-president of Microsoft’s Worldwide Commercial Business, said Microsoft’s experience working with global retailers will help it best support Coles in its technological transformation.
“As the retail industry continues to undergo massive transformation, forward thinking companies are exploring how to leverage technology to better serve their customers and employees,” Althoff said.
“Through our partnership, we will support Coles to provide personalised, seamless experiences for shoppers using AI, offer a more productive workplace for team members through modern collaboration tools and help them unlock better business insights through our advanced analytics solutions.”