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Ahold applies fresh technology to supply chain

Ahold Delhaize USA seeks to provide the freshest produce possible with a little help from artificial intelligence (AI).

Retail Business Services, which manages supply chain operations for Ahold Delhaize USA, is implementing an end-to-end forecasting and replenishment application based on AI technology from Relex Solutions. Local Ahold banners including Food Lion, Giant Food, Giant/Martin’s, Hannaford, Peapod, and Stop & Shop will obtain integrated, efficient end-to-end forecasting and replenishment for both fresh and center store products.

The solution leverages a flexible rules engine, which enables each of the local banners to tailor the solution to their customers’ unique needs. Utilizing AI, the system constantly learns from itself to enable increasingly sophisticated forecasting decisions to fulfill demand for the freshest produce possible in-store, at pick-up points or via online delivery.

The Food Lion and Hannaford banners have been piloting a Relex solution for fresh distribution center forecasting and replenishment since early 2018. Based on the pilot’s success, Retail Business Services is now scaling the solution to support each of Ahold Delhaize USA’s local banners.

“By implementing this game-changing solution, Retail Business Services is further enabling Ahold Delhaize USA’s local brands to deliver on their ambitions to be there for their customers anytime, anywhere with the freshest products,” said Chris Lewis, executive VP of supply chain for Retail Business Services. “Not only will it provide local brand stores with the flexibility they need to best serve their customers, it will enable a complete supply chain transformation at a time when customer expectations are rapidly changing the way groceries are bought, sold and delivered.”

Ahold is capitalizing on the increasingly popular retail trend of leveraging AI to improve supply chain operations and customer service. According to a recent survey of U.S. retail executives from financial services company Synchrony, 80% of respondents believe that AI will change the online customer experience. Almost three-quarters (72%) believe AI will be a competitive necessity for business in the next five years (72%).

In addition, nearly half of respondents expect to use AI in the next three years for inventory planning (43%), while 64% are using AI to capture data and learn more from customers and 40% currently use this data to predict customer behavior.
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