After signing a series of strategic agreements with SAP, Ocado, Optus and Microsoft to improve its digital capabilities, Coles has tapped Accenture to help bring it all together.

Coles, which was spun off from Wesfarmers last year, has signed a long term strategic partnership with Accenture to support the rollout of new technology that will help it deliver cumulative cost savings of $1 billion over four years.

This agreement follows a series of similar partnerships announced this year, including with Microsoft to use its Azure cloud technology, Optus for network technology, Ocado for warehouse robotics and automation and, SAP for HR, finance and procurement.

The new agreement builds on the supermarket’s long standing relationship with Accenture.

Coles last month revealed plans to accelerate its use of technology as part of its Smarter Selling initiative, which will deliver $1 billion in cumulative cost savings by FY23.

“We have committed to being technology-led in our stores and throughout our supply chain to reduce costs while delivering an even better shopping experience for customers and making life easier for our team members,” Coles CEO Steven Cain said.

Use cases for ‘Smarter Selling’ will include increased automation of manual tasks both in stores and in support functions, faster checkouts, using artificial intelligence for quicker and more accurate stock ordering as well as reducing energy use, and smarter planning in distribution centres to improve availability.

“The partnership with Accenture will enable us to deliver the efficiencies we need for long-term sustainability, and provide the agility to respond to rapidly-evolving consumer needs. This is a vital part of Coles winning in its second century,” Cain said.

Innovation fund 

As part of the expanded relationship, Accenture will invest in a joint innovation fund focused on exploring new technology applications within Coles, including the creation of roadmaps that will ensure Coles’ digital capabilities keep pace with the company’s long-term strategy, underlining Coles’ commitment to innovation and more agile ways of working.

“The evolution of the relationship with Accenture reflects the company’s strategy to win together through genuine partnerships with suppliers,” Coles Chief Innovation and Digital Officer Roger Sniezek said.

“Accenture is a global leader in the digital space and in working together over the past years across a wide range of areas of Coles Group, we have each come to understand each other’s businesses, strengths, and ways of working,” he said.

“By leveraging this enhanced relationship, we will work together to build Coles’ technological capability, so we have the tools we need to inspire our customers and make life easier for our team members.”

Glenn Heppell, Managing Director of Accenture’s Products business in Australia and New Zealand, said he was delighted to be working with Coles on the next horizon of digital transformation.

“This represents a real strengthening of the relationship we have built with Coles, and our teams are looking forward to supporting Coles to take new ideas all the way from strategy to research and development, and finally execution,” he said.

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