Developing strategies and technologies to quickly respond to shifts in the marketsuch as changes in customer behavior, new competition, and the impact of global eventsis what sets resilient retailers apart from the competition. With unprecedented global changes to how we live, work, and play, digital technology is the clear path forward for many retailers to succeed.
Microsoft Cloud for Retail is designed to support resilient retail by providing retailers with the tools and insights they need to quickly adjust to changing conditions and seize new opportunities. Retailers are looking to accelerate their digital capabilities to give consumers what they want and show store associates that they are the most valuable asset. Our latest solutions, made to help retailers elevate the shopping experience and empower store associates, are now generally available.
Smart stores are brick-and-mortar retail establishments that use a variety of smart technology to track shoppers and shopping behaviorfrom product discovery through purchaseand use this intelligence to enhance the in-store shopping experience. The Microsoft Cloud for Retail Smart Store Analytics solution provides insights using anonymized data about shoppers’ in-store journeys. The solution enables merchandising managers to monitor their stores and make data-driven decisions to optimize store performance. Managers are provided with indicators including a built-in AI model that supplies a view into items commonly purchased together. The AI model, developed specifically for the retail industry, uses checkout data to help understand shopper behavior and allows retailers to make decisions based on rich behavioral information uniquely available in smart storesincluding shopper actions such as picking up or returning an item, or lingering in front of the shelf.
Smart Store Analytics gives retailers analytics and insights to make sense of their data and grow their business. Store managers can assess the number of items moving from shelf to cartmonitoring window shopper data against paying customer data and determining how quickly customers check out while maintaining individual customer privacy. Additionally, the shopper heatmap helps managers understand which aisles are highly trafficked versus not. This way the store can avoid putting products that need clearing in the dead zone areas. Changes to complementary product placement, ordering frequency, and promotional opportunities can also be made based on the recommendations provided by the AI model. The ability to provide insights allows retailers to adjust their operations to improve customer experience. This can help to reduce wait times for customers, improve product placement, and optimize staffing levels.
abka, one of the world’s most innovative companies in retail, operates more than 50 AI-powered autonomous nano stores that offer customers the convenience of a digital experience in physical stores. abka is partnering with Microsoft and AiFi, the largest provider of autonomous shopping solutions, to enhance its autonomous self-operating stores while also delivering great customer experiences. Fusing AiFi’s rich shopper interaction data with Microsoft Retail AI models can help store operators make data-driven decisions in areas such as store layout, product catalog, shelf placement, and shelf inventory optimization. Together, AiFi, Microsoft, and abka will help customers continuously optimize in-store operations and enhance the end-user experience.
Frontline workers have historically been underserved by workplace technology. A Microsoft Work Trends survey found that one in three retail associates say they do not have sufficient tools and technology to complete their increasingly complex duties.1 With the Microsoft Cloud for Retail Store Operations Assist, store associates can be more productive with the ability to conduct typical business processes such as inventory counts, stock audits, store walks, shift change checks, incident reporting, and safety auditsfrom their own or store-provided tablet or mobile devices. Store managers can digitally review and provide feedback, support associates, and see their store’s performance in real-time from anywhere.
Through Store Operations Assist, store associates can establish informed and meaningful relationships with customers based on their preferences, behaviors, and purchases. Associates can have targeted conversations with customers, through a 360-customer view in a single unified dashboard. Store Operations Assist also enables the associate to capture leads and set up appointments with product and service experts. From the customer’s perspective, this adds personalization, giving them a satisfying shopping experience.
Microsoft Cloud for industries is built with partners in mind. The latest generally available solutions showcase Microsoft’s approach to delivering flexible and reusable components for partners to build on. The partnership with AiFi and their Autonomous Shopping solution is an example of the collaboration that we strive for with all our partners and a win for our shared customers.
We are also excited about the continued work dozens of our partners are creating for retailers. Independent software vendors (ISVs) such as Blue Yonder with their Order Management solution help retailers rapidly optimize the entire click-to-deliver journey, starting with an engaging customer experience through last-mile delivery. Accenture | Avanade is delivering AI-powered insights with ai.RETAIL, a data insight solution integrated with Microsoft Azure and Microsoft Teams for frontline workers. EY has launched a retail solution that builds on Microsoft Cloud for Retail to deliver an improved customer journey and higher sales. Meanwhile, Wipro is addressing the challenge of winning and keeping customers with a ‘buy anywherefulfill anywhere’ solution. With Wipro Endless Aisle, retailers can reduce customer dropout and lost sales, strengthen customer relationships and loyalty, and make the physical store a competitive differentiator in an omnichannel world.
With our global partner ecosystem, we continue to strengthen our industry offerings and offer customers a network of trusted partners who build solutions tailored to their specific industry needs. If you’re a prospective partner, learn how to join our network and boost your business.
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Source: Microsoft Industry Blog