Woolworths boosts $100m WooliesX investment

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Woolworths boosts $100m WooliesX investment

Feels competitive pressure to continue to spend.

Woolworths has flagged “further investment” into its digital and data operations over the next year, adding to the $100 million-plus it has already sunk into the WooliesX venture that runs these programs of work.

CEO Brad Banducci told the retail giant’s annual general meeting [pdf] that the extra investment was needed “to keep pace with a rapidly evolving market”.

“Heightened customer expectations and increased competition in this space will require further investment in F19 [financial year 2019],” he said.

Banducci called out WooliesX projects to date this financial year, including ‘scan and go’ smartphone shopping trials in a single Sydney store, the refresh of the Woolworths app, and “express delivery” pilots in Sydney and Melbourne.

He also said that Woolworths’ online business “is growing strongly and we will continue to invest in digital and data using learnings from WooliesX”.

Woolworths revealed in its annual results back in August that it had so far sunk $100 million-plus into new digital infrastructure, as part of the WooliesX experiment.

iTnews revealed earlier this month that WooliesX is not only a digital transformation and data technology testbed, but also intended as a pilot site for new ways of working that Woolworths hopes to push across the group’s operations.

The WooliesX experiment is already considered successful enough to replicate it in Woolworths’ New Zealand operations, where it is called CountdownX.

WooliesX is known to have been building up its big data capabilities in recent months. Over the past week, it has appeared to ramp up those efforts, advertising a number of positions including a head of data science engineering and products, and a senior big data engineer.

Some of the advertisements flag impending changes to the Woolworths Rewards loyalty program.

The company revealed earlier this year that technology-based enhancements to the scheme were on the cards.

“The purpose of this role is to support the Rewards Data Science team to develop, implement/deploy and optimise analytical and predictive models to deliver better product:customer targeting to increase the effectiveness of Woolworths Rewards campaigns at the same time driving great engagement/loyalty,” one advertisement reads.

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