Digitalisation is a driving force behind fundamental changes in politics, science, business and society. The transformation being fuelled by modern information technology and digital solutions is also sweeping through the trade and travel industries: Food is increasingly ordered via digital channels, and trips are being booked online. As a pioneer in the digital trade of food and nutritional, kitchen and household products, the REWE Group is well aware of the responsibility it has assumed for its customers, employees and suppliers. It fully comprehends the tremendous opportunities offered by digitalisation, but also understands that the potential risks associated with it must be considered as well.
The REWE Group can optimise its business operations and make well-grounded decisions by using data-based information. Such data can be responsibly used to develop needs-based offers to customers and efficiently structure processes. In terms of sustainability, the responsible provision of digital products and services can also provide added value. For instance, the use of data-based analytical tools conserves resources by facilitating needs-driven planning of inventories and their delivery. Technologies can also be used to make supply chains more transparent.
By intensely reflecting on its digital responsibility, the REWE Group will be better equipped to counteract the impact of digitalisation in such areas as the loss of privacy or possible discrimination by algorithms.
The REWE Group assumes responsibility for its customers, employees and suppliers. In today’s era of digital change, it simply makes sense for the trade company to assume this responsibility in digital space as well.
The REWE Group views corporate digital responsibility (CDR) as an obligation to support digitalisation and foster digital skills. In addition, data traffic should be open – in compliance with relevant laws and the data ethics that apply to all combine activities. The REWE Group always places human beings at the heart of digitalisation. For this reason, the group of companies views the conscientious handling of data as an indispensable part of its work. It focuses in particular on the ethical use of data and data protection. The REWE Group also views CDR as the interaction of the responsible use of various technologies.
The REWE Group believes that it is obligated to responsibly help to shape digitalisation. This is why employees from various parts of the company conduct a regular and intense dialogue about the issue. The REWE Group encourages this dialogue throughout the combine. The REWE Group also works actively in company-wide committees and trade associations to integrate digital responsibility into the company and encourage discussions about best practises that extend beyond the horizons of the company and sector. In addition, the REWE Group conducts a dialogue about digital responsibility with political leaders as part of its public affairs activities.
As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, a large number of the REWE Group’s employees have been working remotely since March 2020. During this period, the REWE Group has increasingly given thought to ways that remote working could be even more widely used and integrated into the company’s administrative locations. The project REWE DNA – Deine neue Arbeitswelt (REWE DNA – Your New Work World” was created for this purpose. The company’s reasons for launching this project were quite clear: Remote working can be used outside the context of the pandemic to create better work/life balances for employees. This form of work also facilitates collaboration among different company locations. Key issues addressed here include data protection and the teaching of digital skills.
Artificial intelligence: Manifest of the REWE Group
The development of products and services based on artificial intelligence (AI) has tremendous potential and offers added value to the customers and business partners of the REWE Group – including in terms of trade and tourism. As a framework, it needs to be covered by future-focused and reliable guidelines and criteria – starting at the time of development and programming of AI-based systems. The REWE Group is increasingly engaged with AI-supported applications and processes. With such work in mind, the company issued its AI Manifesto in 2020. The manifesto contains clear and specific recommendations that must be considered in the development of AI applications. The manifesto creates an awareness for potential risks and dangers related to the use of AI technologies. In this regard, it is designed to help to facilitate the development of sustainable and responsible systems.
Checkout-free shopping at REWE Pick&Go
One example of the way that the new technologies are being responsibly used in terms of CDR at the REWE Group is the REWE Pick&Go store that opened in Cologne in October 2021. REWE is the first company in the German food retail sector to make use of hybrid shopping: Customers may pay, as they always have, at the till or use a digital system – that is they bypass the cash register and the wait that is frequently associated with it. At Pick&Go, purchases are registered in a secure, data-restrictive manner with the help of camera and sensor technology. They are billed after they leave the store. To take advantage of the services, customers must use the Pick&Go app. Customers store their money here and scan the associated QR code at the entrance to the market. The app uses computer vision technology that is fed data from cameras installed in the ceiling and weight sensors on the shelves. Data protection was and is a key consideration used in the development and operation of the system: The images recorded of customers are processed in a data-restrictive manner and are used exclusively to facilitate checkout-free purchases. No facial recognition system is used, and the system cannot identify customers after they leave the store. All of these questions were addressed during the conception phase of the system in a reflection of the digital responsibility assumed by the REWE Group and its technology partners. Data protection authorities were also consulted at an early stage – beyond legal notification requirements.
To create additional supply-chain transparency, SELEGGT GmbH, a joint venture of the REWE Group, the HatchTech Group and the University of Leipzig, are using a blockchain-based process to monitor the supply chain for eggs. Customers can also use a QR code to track the supply chain all the back way to the farm for REWE’s store-brand bananas and REWE Beste Wahl (Best Choice) pineapples as well as PENNY’s Fairtrade-Biohelden (Organic Heroes) bananas and pineapples (for more information, see the section Raw Materials – Food). To help consumers to make conscious food choices ,the REWE Group requires REWE and PENNY to use the nutritional information label Nutri-Score on their store brands. Because the transition has not been completed yet for all products, customers can use the REWE app to scan the products and receive the same nutritional information (for more information, see the section Nutrition).