River Island to roll out AI stock optimisation app to all stores

Clothing and accessories retailer River Island has said it will introduce artificial intelligence (AI)-fuelled stock optimisation technology across its UK store estate in the early part of 2020.

The move to fully implement Nextail, a stock optimisation platform which allows store teams to access up-to-date inventory data related to their individual shops, follows trials involving the retailer’s distribution hub and selected stores over the last year.

As Essential Retail reported at the time of the project getting under way, the end goal of using the technology was to provide more powerful forecasting and decision-making capabilities at SKU and store-level, enabling staff to anticipate and act quickly on changes in demand.

Judging by the decision to extend the use of the technology, early trials have been successful.

Rasheed Ibrahim, who is responsible for management of IT training within the retailer’s technology team, explained how the various departments have been utilising the new system, via comments made on the River Island careers page.

“The [team in the] distribution hub use the replenishment module which has replaced ODBMS,” he explained.

“It then uses data-driven logic to forecast demand and replenish to stores with the highest probability of sales. This is done through machine learning, so it learns from previous experiences, without being explicitly programmed and automatically improves future forecasts.”

He added: “Selected trial stores can use the app to access key information that allows them to monitor performance in their store. They can use it to review their bestsellers, identify previous bestsellers where (if!) sales have dropped off and see products that are selling well for the company but not in their store.”

Ultimately, the data accessed via Nextail’s platform allows the River Island team to “make real-time commercial decisions to help drive sales”, Ibrahim noted.

River Island said the technology has saved its shop staff time when during floor walks to check stock, and has reduced the paperwork required for these in-store processes.

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