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Woman checking things off her tablet Consumers spent over $601B in online purchases in 2019. To increase agility and visibilitysupply chain logistics operations are trending towards transparent relationships between warehouses, delivery operations, and online locations. The truth is that modern consumers expect that when they shop for a product, they want to have options for how they buy and receive them. 

Transforming a supply chain into an intelligent operation calls for utilizing the cloud to leverage data and analytics to create a seamless customer experience while maintaining optimal margins. That means aggregating data, optimizing end-to-end delivery logistics across all channels, and leveraging the right tools to ensure that a retailer is compliant, secure, and resilient.  

Predictive analytics build competitive customer service 

Walgreens recently decided to revamp its customer experience through a digital transformation that included rebuilt approaches to training and optimized supply chains. To accomplish the latter, they utilized Azure Synapse to help them pull from their vast amount of customer data to get insights on what consumers bought and how they shopped at their locations and online stores 

Positioning a retail operation to effectively predict and meet customer demand without waste has, historically, been a complex process that involved using past sales figures to inform future decisions. To update their own operations, Walgreens turned to real-time data and analytics–instead of looking to the past, they focused on the present. 

What does this mean for other retailers? More accurate demand management driven by algorithmic decision-making means that there are fewer instances where products aren’t available for customers. Likewise, if a product isn’t available, a seller can utilize an online platform connected to the supply chain to provide information on when a product is available and if the customer can pre-order 

Now, retailers are turning to predictive analytics and transparent supply chains to help them utilize real-time data for a more accurate picture of customer behavior and availability. In turn, that helps them deliver the right products, at the right volume, to meet demand.  

Optimized supply chains ensure business continuity 

An optimized supply chain not only helps you get products to market but provides the continuity and visibility retail businesses need to thrive. Real-time data and predictive analytics can help reduce waste associated with maintaining a network of warehouses and delivery trucks through intelligence derived from real-time data.  

Microsoft ran into these challenges when they tried to open their Surface and Xbox supply chains with per-unit tracking. To accomplish this, they partnered with a logistics company to track each unit through a single interface. Just by marking, tracking, and monitoring these devices, Microsoft was able to identify bottlenecks in shipping and fulfillment to optimize the supply chain.  

As mentioned above, predictive analytics provide rich insights into how to meet the customer where they are. With the right kind of data, they can also provide insights for automated, predictive maintenance, and alert systems. Predictive maintenance helps proactively identify where waste and inefficiencies might occur and when the best time is to repair or replace equipment.  

Build supply chain resiliency with real-time data 

As supply chains become more complex, they often become more fragile. Supply chains that are undergoing a digital transformation are obviously managing customer data, which means several layers of necessary compliance and security measures. Accordingly, it takes integrated security and compliance measures to make those supply chains safe and resilient. 

Retail businesses competing in physical and digital marketplaces are turning to centralized compliance and security solutions. These solutions help businesses manage their security obligations from an integrated global dashboard while minimizing the chance that security flaws paralyze their supply chain.  

Microsoft cloud solutions empower intelligent supply chains 

Cloud platforms like Dynamics 365 and Azure are empowering retail businesses to increase their supply chain intelligenceLeveraging the power of the cloud to provide analytics and AI enables retail supply chains to become smarter in terms of how they serve their customers 

Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management solutions provide a seamless interface for your employees with translates to an improved experience for your customers. It also solves a lot of the problems associated with product management, as it provides automation for things like stock replenishment and transparent inventory availability.  

With Azure Synapse, retailers can utilize current customer and supply chain information to empower their staff to make sales while optimizing their entire supply chain from warehouse to digital storefront.  

Azure Synapse blends data from multiple sources to provide real insight to fuel algorithmic and human decision making.  

The mission of any company looking to enrich their supply chain should be improved analytics, transparency, and endtoend optimization and orchestration. Microsoft supports this mission with the right tools and features to empower retailers to build the intelligent supply chain they need to compete and be successful. 

To learn more about transforming your supply chain, read the free e-book Intelligent Retail Guide: Optimizing your Supply Chain