TOKYO — Seven-Eleven Japan, operator of the country’s biggest convenience store chain, will start employing generative artificial intelligence for more efficient product planning, thereby taking a new approach in the retail sector where such technology has been mainly used to sell products.

From the spring of 2024, the company will use AI to generate texts and images for new products based on analysis of store sales data and consumer feedback through social media.

This is expected to reduce the time required for product planning by up to 90%, and to better align product distribution with emerging trends and customer needs.

The company recently created the infrastructure for a cloud-based peculiar information technology system. It is equipped with generative AI from companies like U.S. startup OpenAI, Google and Stability AI, a U.K. startup, and will process data from customer sales, product manufacturers and social media.

Seven-Eleven also expects AI to generate draft proposals for new products.

This will all streamline a process that currently relies on employees to develop product ideas by analyzing consumer surveys and holding multiple internal meetings before taking them to market.

While using generative AI for product development is a new departure, global retailers are already using other specifically developed technologies, such as in-store cameras that identify individual customers and then observe their product preferences. There are also smartphone alerts to suggest products related to health conditions, including blood pressure.

Among nearly 9,000 Seven-Eleven employees, not counting franchise employee, about 1,000 at managerial level have begun using the system. This will be expanded to those involved in developing and markets products by spring 2024.

Seven-Eleven has already introduced the new AI infrastructure in one department, and that led to a reduction in internal meetings of about 80%. The system is expected to reduce the time needed to complete each product planning from as much as 10 months to just one, for example. Employees should be able to use the saved time completing other tasks and working on product improvement.

Seven & i Holdings, the holding group, currently markets about 3,400 products under the Seven Premium brand. The AI is expected to broaden the overall product lineup by grasping consumer trends and needs more quickly.

 

Extracted in full from:  https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Retail/7-Eleven-Japan-to-use-generative-AI-to-speed-production-planning

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