Suning sets sights on big data to serve evolving retail needs

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TechCrunch Shenzhen Fireside Chat: AI in New Retail. Image Credit: TechNode/TechCrunch

Suning Technology Group, China’s leading home appliance and digital device retail giant, will focus more on practical applications in use cases, instead of heavily investing in fundamental research, said Jack Jing, the company’s COO.

“Consumer driven companies, and startups too, could hand over fundamental research work to professional tech teams. Efforts saved shall be paid to implementations,” Liu explained, adding that it is China’s diverse use cases that encourage companies to adopt data supported implementations.

“The era that relies on human for product selection is gone. Suning alone manages over 40 million products for over 10,000 Suning brick-and-mortar shops around the country,” Jing said, and stressed that these activities can’t be done without machine learning and systematic corporate management.

Further according to him, big data supported product selection can improve accuracy of inventory planning increasing users’ purchasing willingness by 15% to 20%.

In 2009, Suning said it wanted to be a combination of Walmart and Amazon but in China. To fulfil this goal, Jing said Suning gives priority to areas of operations that are closely related to demand, user experience, and data.

As a result, the company foresees the next trend in retail to be a consumer-to-manufacturer (C-to-M) model that will lay increasing importance on a “fast and flexible” supply chain.

“Even just 1% efficiency improvement in the supply chain operation, combined with AI and C-to-M for new retail, will significantly shift our daily lives,” Jing explained. “We should closely work with research teams and propose better operation solutions for the industry.”

Suning will also share smart retail algorithm and non-confidential data with more partners outside the retail industry by 2019 to boost operation capacity, Jing added.