The supermarket claims the focus is a move designed to “help focus on the areas that really matter to customers and invest in areas such as digital and technology in order to evolve for the future”, and explained consumers want more convenience and intuitive shopping experiences.
This will all be enabled following the company’s January review of costs, which revealed a plan to save £500m over three years by cutting 500 office-based store support roles across London, Coventry and Manchester.
New roles include teams of coders, digital designers, engineers, testers and operators, all of whom will be expected to “equip the business for the future”. Duties will include enhancing existing digital Sainsbury’s channels, including the website and shopping apps.
Development, testing and launch of new products will take place this summer at a Digital Lab in London, which will support 180 new members of staff, serving as a modern workspace for the creatives.
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Meanwhile, a Technology Hub housing the remaining 300 team members will be forged in Coventry, where the company will look at “upgrading its own infrastructure and core business systems to serve customers faster, including building better platforms for online shopping and supply chains”.
The firm admitted its operations “rely on technology” from 22 depots using tech to capture what our 1,200 stores need, to checkout software instantly rewarding customers with targeted promotions.
“The shape of our business is changing and digital and technology is a core part of our future growth,” said Sainsbury’s CEO Mike Coupe. “Ultimately these changes are good news for customers – the Technology Hub in Coventry will keep our systems running smoothly and experts in our Digital Lab in London will be developing new ways of digital shopping to give customers the best access to our products, services and offers.”
There’s large room for the company to grow its digital arm – the online business is 18 years old and worth £1bn, which is just five per cent of sales. Recognising that, the first ‘dark store’ for online orders only will open in Bromley-by-Bow in 2016.
Jon Rudoe, director of digital and technology at Sainsbury’s, added: “We’re now firmly on the map as a career destination for digital and technology specialists. Retail is a vibrant sector for innovation and this team is key to keeping our fast-paced business running.
“We’re structuring and equipping entrepreneurial teams to improve the digital experience and develop products that will help make our customers’ lives easier.”
Sainsbury’s move is backed by a report from November, which found there’s an appetite for technology and payments to be blended, as supermarkets accounted for the highest usage of contactless payments.
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