11 Gennaio 2024

Microsoft Cloud for Retail unlocks a new level of productivity with AI

AI technologies are revolutionizing how retailers operate, engage with customers, and optimize their business. With improved efficiencies, reduced costs, and faster decision making, retailers recognize benefits of investing in AI. The latest Microsoft Cloud for Retail updates use AI to help retailers maximize their data, elevate shopper experience, and empower store associates. We’re excited to introduce copilot templates on Azure OpenAI Service. Leveraging the copilot templates, retailers can build experiences to gain a competitive edge while responding to their business’s evolving needs.

The importance of data in AI-driven retail fuels the algorithms, insights, and personalized experiences that are increasingly integral to success of the modern retailer. The ability to collect, harmonize, and derive meaningful insights from vast amounts of data empowers retailers to make informed decisions, create personalized experiences, and stay competitive. Understanding that data is key to success, we’ve also released retail data solutions in Microsoft Fabric—helping retailers to standardize and enrich raw data with connectors to engage customers more effectively. Read on to learn how you and your employees can maximize benefits from your data.

Customer service scanning product codes, picking and packing online orders, analyzing data and managing inventory in the storeroom.

Microsoft Cloud for Retail

Become a resilient retailer and drive sustained profitability and growth

Optimize shopper experiences with personalization  

Generative AI models have vastly improved the experience of chatting with virtual assistants—providing expert advice and bringing ease and convenience to online shoppers. The copilot template for personalized shopping on Azure OpenAI Service (preview) enables retailers to build tailored shopping experiences that allow consumers to shop using natural language. Online shopping is now akin to consulting with a specialist in a store. Personalized shopping taps into the retailer’s vast expertise and knowledge base to apply across shopping situations with the convenience of anytime, anywhere availability. Using a retailer’s current systems and data, this copilot template can be embedded into existing experiences, such as a website or app, making it easier for shoppers to find and purchase the products they want. With the prebuilt copilot template, retailers can offer customers personalized expert advice as well as guide the shopper to find unexpected items and learn more about the retailer. For example, a shopper going camping for the first time asking for clothing recommendations will get suggestions for clothing as well as complementary gear with personalized advice based on the customer’s history and preferences, such as color, style, and design and cross referenced with publicly available information such as destination, weather, and time of year as it relates to the customer’s trip.

The copilot template is designed to be easy for any retailer to use. Its open architecture lets each organization leverage existing investments in commerce, inventory, and personalization solutions to support a wide range of buying environments, including e-commerce sites and mobile apps. Designed to have interactive discussions with shoppers, the copilot template can be adapted to each seller’s brand and values, responds to shopper questions, and facilitates decision-making to create a personalized experience that feels natural and easygoing. 

Increase productivity and efficiency with copilot template for store operations   

Whether associates are long-term employees or seasonal workers, empowering the workforce and optimizing their performance is critical to customer satisfaction and retailer success. With the new generative AI-powered copilot template for store operations on Azure OpenAI Service (preview), retailers can build technology that allows frontline workers to quickly and easily access the information needed for their work day, increasing productivity and efficiency with text and voice commands.  

Retail frontline workers can easily get answers to questions on store operating procedures like how to handle refunds or set up product displays. Using natural language, associates can ask questions about the product catalog to support shoppers, review HR policies and benefits, or complete surveys. Copilot template for store operations enables workers to independently manage issues such as addressing damaged items. For example, with a few prompts, an associate can ask copilot template for store operations for the company’s standard operating procedure for replacing damaged products. In addition to getting the right steps to handle the process, the associate can also create a task to replace products and send an alert through Microsoft Teams to the store manager. Copilot template for store operations reduces the need for pen and paper, data in multiple systems, or the retail frontline tracking down the store manager for every problem that arises.  

Likewise, the copilot template for store operations helps store managers optimize the work experience for their associates and deliver improved customer experiences. They can ask Microsoft Teams for a summary of key performance indicators (KPIs)—such as sales, inventory, and customer feedback. Using copilot template for store operations, a manager can quickly create tasks and assign associates to address. Copilot template for store operations provides retailers insights and information in the normal flow of work, helping managers and associates increase productivity and responsiveness. Finally, the copilot template, when used in combination with Microsoft Power Platform and Microsoft Dataverse capabilities empowers customers to seamlessly connect data across multiple line-of-business systems to generate AI-driven recommendations and actionable solutions that will help store associates make the right decisions.

Gain actionable insights fast with retail data solutions in Microsoft Fabric

Microsoft Fabric is a complete analytics platform built for the era of AI. It enables the transformation of data into predictive insights, to ensure better business outcomes and reduce costly data replication and movement to support data analysts and data scientists. With these solutions in place, organizations can also automate duplicative tasks resulting in data efficiency and resource management.   The self-serve ability enables organizations to equip everyone in the company with their own access to these powerful analytics. Underscoring all of this is a commitment to help keep data secure and protected in a single source while meeting stringent compliance requirements.  

Retail data solutions in Microsoft Fabric are a set of industry-specific capabilities that enable customers to accelerate time to insight generation by unifying, enriching, and modelling industry data in Microsoft Fabric​. Organizations can plan, architect, and design data solutions for data governance, reporting, business intelligence, and advanced analytics. Using data definition, formats, and storage enhancement, a standardized data model is created to help organizations derive actionable insights from large volumes of retailer data. Retail data solutions in Microsoft Fabric provide seamless integration across different systems and applications. By establishing a foundation for naming, data classification, and access controls, retailers can be assured effective governance of their data. 

Sitecore OrderCloud connector enhances your digital capabilities 

Sitecore OrderCloud connector, one of the key capabilities of retail data solutions, gives you a quick and reliable platform to get commerce data onto Microsoft retail industry standard schema. The connector performs transformation and orchestration on top of the data from Sitecore OrderCloud to align with the data model. The connector works across three key data sets:   

  1. Products: All the sellable products available in Sitecore OrderCloud. 
  2. Customers: End customers who are shopping from your e-commerce portals. 
  3. Orders: Customer generated online sales orders.  

The key role of the connector is to get data into the retail data solutions schema, giving users the benefit of access to solutions that are built on top of retail data solutions. Microsoft Power BI reports on sales, products, and customer data solutions can be enabled on top of Sitecore OrderCloud data out of box. 

The connector ensures that no personal customer information is transferred when using Dataverse and Microsoft Power Platform capabilities such as Power BI reports and other related solutions. The Power BI reports provide actionable insights on top of data. Each report provides a specific view of data across sales, customers, and products that can help make impactful merchandising, marketing, and supply chain decisions.  

Sitecore OrderCloud delivers limitless commerce capabilities and opportunities to consolidate commerce channels into a single managed marketplace. The out-of-the-box integration with Microsoft Fabric unlocks the ability to be a forward-looking AI retail organization. Retail organizations can benefit from stateful services, reliable messaging, orchestration, monitoring, and security, while continuing to focus on their roadmap and strategic business objectives.” 

Steven Davis, Vice President of Engineering Commerce, Sitecore 

Make strategic product decisions with frequently bought together

Lastly, with this release, retailers can make informed decisions about product placement and promotions when using the frequently bought together application model for Smart store analytics. This model provides insights and recommendations and applies data science to unearth deeper insights into store performance. Retailers can forecast foot traffic, group products that are frequently bought together and understand products substitutions to optimize store operations and increase customer satisfaction.

Frequently bought together analytics enables retailers to: 

  • Find the top revenue products and boost cross-sales by putting identified products closer. 
  • Check the lowest revenue products and decide which ones to drop from the product catalogue. 
  • Measure how past marketing actions, like new shelf layout or promotion performance, affected the sales of each item in a product group by comparing before and after sales revenues when purchased together. 

Learn more

Microsoft introduces prebuilt AI solutions for retailers

Read the blog 

  • Join us at NRF 2024 from January 13 to 16, 2024 in New York City, New York to learn more about Microsoft Cloud for Retail’s cutting-edge AI technologies and how they can optimize your business.
  • Join Shelley Bransten at the Microsoft Retail Digital Forum on February 6, 2024 for the How AI Unlocks Value for Retail session to learn about the research and gain insights into what is driving AI transformation among leading retailers.
  • To get started, you can sign up here or learn more about our latest capabilities on the Microsoft Cloud for Retail homepage. 

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Source: Microsoft Industry Blog