Marks & Spencer Group (LON:MKS) has teamed up with Microsoft to test artificial intelligence in a retail environment, the blue-chip retailer has said. The move came after the FTSE 100 group’s former digital boss said that the company should examine a tie-up with Amazon.
Marks & Spencer’s share price has gained ground in London this morning, having added 0.44 percent to 294.30p as of 10:26 BST. The stock is marginally underperforming the broader UK market, with the benchmark FTSE 100 index currently standing 0.69 percent higher at 7,608.49 points. The group’s shares have lots a little over 13 percent of their value over the past year, as compared with about a two-percent gain in the Footsie.
M&S teams up with Microsoft
M&S and Microsoft announced in a statement yesterday that they had signed a strategic partnership focused on testing the integration of the US tech giant’s AI technologies into the retailer’s business. The partnership will see the companies work together to explore how technologies such as artificial intelligence can be utilised within the retail environment to improve customer experience and optimise operations.
“M&S is transforming into a Digital First retailer, at a time when the sector is undergoing a customer-led revolution,” the retailer’s chief executive Steve Rowe commented in the statement, adding that the company wanted “to be at the forefront of driving value into the customer experience using the power of technology”.
The partnership comes with the FTSE 100 retailer continuing with its transformation under Rowe which could see the company abandon its womenswear brand Per Una.
Ex-digital boss suggests Amazon tie-up
M&S’ partnership with Microsoft also comes after the retailer’s former digital director Marcus East told the BBC that he thought the retailer should be ‘looking seriously’ at working with e-commerce giant Amazon. East worked under former chief executive Marc Bolland.
“I would agree that for a lot of retailers, whilst they've put up a great fight, ultimately working with the likes of Amazon is probably a good way to tackle the digital space,” East told Radio 5 live’s Wake Up To Money programme.