Microsoft Cloud for Retail is now typically accessible

If the previous two years have taught us something, it’s that it’ll take all of us working collectively to make sure the way forward for retail is assembly at present’s shopper wants. The world of retail has been endlessly formed by new behaviors, and plenty of are right here to remain. Enterprise-as-usual will now not meet these expectations. With the rise of blended shopper buying behaviors, persistent provide chain constraints, and a critical labor scarcity, a brand new actuality has emerged. A actuality that requires retailers to speed up their digital capabilities to offer customers what they need earlier than they’ve requested, align their provide chain by anticipating this demand, and empower the {industry}’s superheroes—retail frontline employees.

With the February 1 normal availability of Microsoft Cloud for Retail, I’m optimistic we’re going to satisfy this problem head-on with expertise that can assist retailers join their prospects, their folks, and their information with a companion they’ll belief.

What’s Microsoft Cloud for Retail?

Microsoft Cloud for Retail is an industry-specific cloud that can assist retailers meet this new age of digital optimism. Prospects have requested us for purpose-built retail options designed to permit their companies to do issues they’ve by no means been capable of do earlier than and with a stage of pace and specificity past what they’ve anticipated prior to now. Our lengthy historical past of scope and scale within the retail {industry} has been delivered to the cloud. And we’re serving to to speed up enterprise development by offering an entire set of retail-specific capabilities throughout the Microsoft Cloud portfolio.

It begins by unifying disparate information sources throughout the end-to-end shopper journey, permitting retailers to maximise the worth of their information, and leading to one holistic view of the patron. As soon as related, information and AI assist retailers higher perceive and elevate the patron buying expertise. In offering extra related and streamlined experiences all through the retail worth chain, retailers can construct a real-time sustainable provide chain and empower their frontline workforce.

With Microsoft Cloud for Retail, our elevated data of particular person buyer journeys will additional strengthen our buyer relationships and switch GNC into folks’s main vacation spot for well being and wellness.”—Scott Saeger​, Chief Info Officer, GNC

Getting into the 2022 retail area

Trying forward, I’d prefer to share 4 future-looking alternatives that retailers could be optimistic about in 2022, all of which will probably be enabled with Microsoft Cloud for Retail capabilities and our wealthy ecosystem of companions.

1. Maximize the worth of retail information

Understand the true worth of retailer’s information by unifying disparate information sources throughout the consumer journey, discovering insights that allow higher experiences. There are 40 petabytes of knowledge generated each hour in retail—it’s successfully the demand sign for the world.¹ But, buyer touchpoints aren’t linked to one another—programs and information are siloed and disconnected.​ And most retailers are solely set as much as leverage a fraction of the info that’s accessible.

With Microsoft Cloud for Retail, we’re utilizing information fashions to convey a number of programs and functions collectively, unifying disparate information sources to determine a singular, in-depth profile of every shopper​. Capabilities right here embody unified buyer profile, shopper and operational analytics, clever fraud safety, and retail media.

“Whenever you make selections based mostly on information, you understand that you just’re going to place the suitable merchandise within the arms of consumers after they want it. And we’re going to have pleased workers as a result of they received’t need to handle stock that’s not wanted of their shops.”​—Anne Cruz​, IT Supervisor for Provide Chain and Merchandising, Walgreens

2. Elevate the buying expertise

Rework the buying expertise by means of information analytics and new retailer expertise to create extra engaged customers with stronger lifetime worth. In at present’s extremely aggressive retail panorama, personalization has change into the usual. Whereas 95 % of retail CEOs say they’re strategically prioritizing personalization, solely 23 % of customers suppose they’re doing a superb job.²

​With personalization on the coronary heart of satisfying buying experiences, Microsoft Cloud for Retail helps drive conversion by enabling customized suggestions and search outcomes. Capabilities right here embody real-time personalization, clever shops, unified commerce, digital promoting options, and seamless customer support.

“We needed to higher perceive buyer preferences and the way they alter over time. These are extremely essential issues for a enterprise of our dimension to grasp.”​—Sashi Kommineni​, Director of Enterprise Analytics, Chipotle Mexican Grill

3. Construct a real-time, sustainable provide chain

Create a resilient and sustainable provide chain by connecting information throughout the ecosystem to determine points and optimize efficiency. Immediately’s customers are pissed off by empty cabinets. In some ways, 2021 was the yr of the availability chain—or “provide ache” because it turned identified. In accordance with McKinsey, within the fall of 2021, over 60 % of customers confronted out-of-stocks and solely 13 % of these waited for the merchandise to come back again in inventory. Amongst those that confronted out-of-stocks, 32 % in the end switched retailers to make their buy. That implies that many retailers will not be solely shedding out on gross sales however dealing with diminished buyer loyalty.³

Provide chain transformation begins with the popularity {that a} retailer’s information holds the important thing. But regardless of retailers sitting on a treasure trove of knowledge from throughout their provide chain, many can’t use it to their full benefit. With Microsoft Cloud for Retail, we’re serving to retailers to higher predict demand utilizing AI to optimize stock and optimize order administration to offer prospects selection throughout channels. What’s extra, we’re serving to retailers file, report, and cut back issues like carbon emissions as they attempt to change into extra sustainable. Capabilities right here embody provide chain visibility, demand planning and optimization​, and versatile achievement.

We’ve had rave evaluations from our prospects in regards to the nice expertise utilizing our curbside pick-up on the retailer. They’re blown away by the communication and the extent of service they’re getting through Groups, and the ensuing belief means extra general buying.”​—Paul Medeiros​, Affiliate Vendor-Proprietor, Canadian Tire, Niagara Falls

4. Empower the shop affiliate

Equip retailer associates with options to allow real-time retailer communications, workforce administration, and retailer automation. Retail at all times has been and at all times will probably be a folks enterprise, with many employed on retail’s frontline. If ever there was any doubt in regards to the significance of retail’s frontline, then their herculean efforts in the course of the previous two years have put these doubts to relaxation. These superheroes shouldered a lot of the change we’ve seen and skilled, with minimal coaching and astonishing grace. Survey outcomes from Microsoft’s current Work Pattern Index present that 60 % of frontline employees are excited in regards to the new alternatives that digital instruments convey to retail, however 34 % really feel they nonetheless don’t have the suitable expertise.⁴

Investing in frontline employees’ expertise is investing within the buyer expertise. For instance, industry-specific options like Microsoft Cloud for Retail can floor inventory and provide chain information on cell units so an affiliate can shortly see availability of an out-of-stock product and prepare to have it shipped to the client. Retailers which have reworked frontline capabilities on this means have seen unprecedented returns in buyer satisfaction. Capabilities right here embody real-time retailer communication and collaboration, retail workforce administration, course of automation, and profession improvement.

“With Duties in Groups, we will create a tradition of relentless buyer care and ensure that the suitable behaviors are in place within the pursuit of that purpose. If we get the client care component proper, the enterprise end result will communicate for itself.”​—Cahir Mullan​, Franchise Companion and Optometrist, Widnes Boots Opticians

Partnering for the following period of retail

Constructing digital functionality is the brand new foreign money driving each retailer’s resilience and development. Not only for this pandemic however for future occasions, and the years to come back. That’s why digital co-innovation is an enormous focus for us. We would like our prospects to construct their very own digital functionality and change into unbiased with us, not depending on us. However we additionally know that we will’t do that on our personal. That’s why we’ve got an unimaginable ecosystem of {industry} companions who prolong the worth of Microsoft Cloud for Retail with further options that handle their most urgent challenges. 

This companion ecosystem is a rising community of options that makes use of a typical information mannequin format to combine seamlessly and natively with the whole thing of our Microsoft Cloud for Retail. And naturally, these companions wouldn’t have our seal of approval with out the identical safety, privateness, and regulatory requirements we depend on to keep up a bedrock of belief. We’re honored that so many companions belief Microsoft to be their platform companion.

Thanks for the belief in us

Digital expertise has a important position to play in advancing the retail {industry} ahead, and I’m grateful for the belief our prospects proceed to put in Microsoft as their digital companion of selection. With Microsoft Cloud for Retail as our car for {industry} innovation, together with an incredible ecosystem of Microsoft companions, I couldn’t be extra excited for what lies forward for all of us.

Lastly, I invite you to hitch us for our Retail Digital Discussion board on January 19, 2022, the place we’ll be sharing inspiration from among the prospects and companions working with us on all these future-looking alternatives.

Don’t neglect you may keep knowledgeable about Microsoft Cloud for Retail, and you can even comply with us on social. Welcome to Microsoft Cloud for Retail.


¹Get extra worth out of your information within the cloud—Accenture.
²Personalizing the client expertise—McKinsey and Co.
³US shopper sentiment and behaviors in the course of the coronavirus disaster—McKinsey and Co.
⁴Work Pattern Index—Microsoft.

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