LONDON: Sainsbury's, the third-largest supermarket group in the UK, is making data-driven personalised service a key strategic aim as it battles to overcome falling profits in the fiercely competitive UK grocery sector.

Coming as the company announced that underlying profits fell 18% to £308m in the first half of the year, CEO Mike Coupe said Sainsbury's plans to develop "a single customer view" to improve the customer experience.

"The next stage of the program is to have what we would call a single customer view of our customers where we pull together all of our data sets to enable us to anticipate and fulfil our customers' needs on a more personalised basis," he said in comments reported by The Drum.

Trials are underway at six stores that have been designed with mobile technology in mind, he said, and the new format stores also have different checkout formations and greater emphasis on non-food items.

Sainsbury's is looking to adopt an omnichannel approach, enabling it to track customers and their communications to try to meet British consumers' growing demand for convenience and a better in-store experience.

The in-store experience will be one of three core areas that will underpin its focus on personalisation along with more non-food goods as well as strategic partnerships through concessions and click-and-collect.

Sainsbury's already has partnerships with catalogue retailer Argos, Jessops, the photographers, and Timpson, the multi-service repairs chain, and these partnerships will be expanded over the next 12 months.

Discounting has been an important part of the company's strategy over the past year as, like other supermarket chains, it tried to deal with the challenges posed by German discount rivals, Aldi and Lidl.

With £150m already invested in lower prices over the last year, Coupe confirmed that the group would "continue to remain competitive on price".

"We are delivering volume and transaction growth as customers value our quality improvements and our clearer, simpler message of lower regular prices," he said.

Data sourced from The Drum; additional content by Warc staff