Seven-Eleven Japan, the operator of the country’s largest convenience store chain, is set to deploy generative artificial intelligence for product planning, starting in the spring of 2024.

This strategic integration of AI is expected to drastically accelerate the production planning process, reducing the time required by up to 90%. By leveraging AI-generated texts and images, based on in-depth analysis of store sales data and consumer feedback gathered from social media, Seven-Eleven Japan is aligning its product distribution more effectively with current trends and customer preferences.

The company has developed a cloud-based information technology system with generative AI technologies from leading entities like OpenAI, Google, and Stability AI. This system is designed to synthesize data from diverse sources, including customer sales, product manufacturers, and social media insights, thereby enhancing the overall product development process. This approach allows Seven-Eleven Japan to generate draft proposals for new products, streamlining a process that traditionally relied heavily on manual employee input and extensive internal meetings.

Global retailers have been utilizing AI for various purposes, including customer preference tracking through in-store cameras and health-related product suggestions via smartphone alerts. However, Seven-Eleven Japan’s initiative marks a novel application of generative AI in retail, specifically in product development.

Implementing this AI infrastructure is already showing promising results within the company. About 1,000 managerial-level employees are currently using the system, with plans to expand its use to those involved in product development and marketing by spring 2024. The introduction of this AI system in one department has led to an 80% reduction in internal meetings, and product planning timeframes have been dramatically shortened from as much as 10 months to just one month.