Coles taps Accenture to drive tech mega-projects, help deliver $1b savings

Expanded relationship to see Accenture deliver SAP implementation, automation initiatives

Accenture will help Coles implement a range of large-scale tech projects, with the retailer aiming to realise savings of around $1 billion over four years.

Coles said today it had signed a “long-term agreement” with Accenture to help drive the overhaul of its supply chain, building on an existing relationship between the two companies. Coles’ tech-heavy Smarter Selling initiative is intended to 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 in a statement.

Smarter Selling includes increased use of automation both in-store and in distribution and support functions.

“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.”

Earlier this month Coles announced that Microsoft Azure had been anointed its “cloud platform of choice” as part of a strategic partnership that will include increased use of AI technologies to optimise the retailer’s stores and supply chain.

Today’s announcement by the supermarket chain noted that Accenture “has delivered more than 35,000 Microsoft projects for more than 4,000 clients around the world and has a global strategic relationship with Microsoft that will be leveraged to help Coles deliver simpler, more efficient, and robust operations.”

In addition to working with Coles on its use of Azure, including building an enterprise data platform in the Microsoft cloud, the company said Accenture will work on the roll out of Ocado Smart Platform (OSP) for online grocery ordering, single-pick fulfilment and home delivery and another of its automation programs, the development of new WITRON-based ambient distribution centres in Queensland and NSW.

Coles also said that Accenture is supporting its roll out of SAP’s S/4HANA ERP platform. SAP in February announced that the retailer would use its software for procurement, HR, and finance.

“The evolution of the relationship with Accenture reflects the company’s strategy to win together through genuine partnerships with suppliers,” said Coles chief information and digital officer Roger Sniezek.

“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.

“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.”

Accenture and the retailer will invest in a “joint innovation fund,” Coles said, which will focus 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.”

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