How Sainsbury’s plans to become the UK’s “leading AI-enabling grocer”

A woman walks past a branch of Sainsbury's supermarket.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Sainsbury’s has announced plans to overhaul operations through the use of AI tools as part of a landmark deal with Microsoft. 

The five-year strategic partnership will help drive the UK firm towards its recently announced ‘Next Level Sainsbury’s’ strategy, it said in a statement. The retailer believes the use of AI tools will help improve store operations, push efficiency for staff members, and deliver a better quality of service for customers. 

Sainsburys will combine its own cloud ecosystem with Microsoft Azure to deliver these changes, helping reduce the time taken to bring new services to market. 

The firm also said it would be supporting staff through upskilling programs designed to enhance AI education internally.

“Sainsbury’s has laid out a bold vision that puts AI at the heart of its business, accelerating the development of new services, which will enhance and transform the customer and colleague experience,” said Clare Barclay, CEO of Microsoft UK.  

“We are delighted to be working with Sainsbury’s to power the next generation of retail,” she added.  

Sainsbury’s digital transformation plans gather pace

These digital transformation efforts will focus on three key areas, the first of which is focused on the enhancement of the customer experience through generative AI tools.

The retailer said it hopes to improve “interactivity” for online shopping customers, with new tools set to create a more streamlined and engaging search experience. 

Staff members on the ground will also gain access to AI-powered tools designed to speed up tasks such as stock replenishment by utilizing a larger volume of data points.

“Using AI to pull together multiple data inputs, such as shelf edge cameras, colleagues will be guided to the shelves that need replenishing,” Sainsbury’s said.

This will save time while also ensuring sales opportunities are not being missed, freeing up Sainsbury's employees to focus on customer requests or query responses via AI-guided support tools. 


The final key area referred to the utilization of Sainsbury’s data, with the firm looking keenly forward to combining its “data assets” with Microsoft 365 collaboration tools and generative AI platforms.

“Our collaboration with Microsoft will accelerate our ambition to become the UK’s leading AI-enabled grocer,” Clodagh Moriarty, Sainsbury’s Chief Retail and Technology Officer, said.

“It’s one of the key ways we’re investing in transforming our capabilities over the next three years, enabling us to take another big leap forward in efficiency and productivity, continue to provide leading customer service, and deliver returns for our shareholders,” she added. 

George Fitzmaurice
Staff Writer

George Fitzmaurice is a staff writer at ITPro, ChannelPro, and CloudPro, with a particular interest in AI regulation, data legislation, and market development. After graduating from the University of Oxford with a degree in English Language and Literature, he undertook an internship at the New Statesman before starting at ITPro. Outside of the office, George is both an aspiring musician and an avid reader.