Woman smiles as she unpacks her online shopping order from a cardboard box in her living room.

It’s that time of the year again. Not to start a gym membership or return gifts…it’s that time of year where retailers reflect on holidays past and question if there was room to do more for their customers: faster delivery, seamless returns, relevant recommendations, efficient customer service without the pain of waiting and listening to hold music. There is a myriad of opportunities to deliver a better shopper experience equating to higher customer satisfaction and loyalty.

As omnichannel shopping causes data complexity (pandemic aside), the solutions to achieve a customer golden record need to be simplified. Every retailer strives to meaningfully connect with customers to ensure they come back. However, achieving customer satisfaction is directly linked to a retailer’s team on the front line. The best online targeting can be overturned by a front-line worker left without the tools they need to effectively serve a customer in the store.

In essence, it comes down to people and data. The way retailers empower their people, and the effectiveness of their data analytics are today’s problems. Those retailers who have invested in both continue to reap the benefits as they hone their data analytics and front-line worker capabilities year on year.

Microsoft Cloud for Retail now available

Microsoft Cloud for Retail, with general availability on February 1, comes out of the gate with a focus on data analytics and the front-line worker with the goal of serving customers better across their shopping journey.

Retailers are asking for composable solutions that result in higher customer satisfaction and greater share of wallet. We have removed the complexity, clarified every value as one felt by the shopper, and paired Microsoft’s technology with our partners to reduce time to market. All while ensuring privacy, security, and regulatory compliance for retailers.

Microsoft Cloud for Retail helps retailers:

  1. Maximize the value of their data.
  2. Elevate the shopping experience.
  3. Empower the retail frontline worker.
  4. Build a real-time, sustainable supply chain.

The role of partners in our industry cloud

Our System Integrator (SIs) partners at launch include Accenture/Avanade, DXC Technology, KPMG, TCS, among others whose solutions are listed in the Microsoft Cloud for Retail AppSource Catalog. These global SIs lend their consulting prowess combined with their engineering logic to implement the entire Microsoft Cloud for Retail offering or discreet components that map to a retailer’s core priorities. We have equipped them with the know-how to bring Microsoft Cloud for Retail to life through removing data silos, reducing data duplication, and facilitating analytics that will deliver more robust business intelligence as well as greater predictive accuracy.

At launch, our Independent Software Vendor (ISVs) partners possess deep technical interoperability with Microsoft Cloud for Retail. Their participation enables data congruence across our industry cloud thereby ensuring that customers can realize greater analytics confidence across their own data, the data procured across Microsoft, and the data within our partners.

As we look across Microsoft Cloud for Retail, our partners offer distinct services within each aspect of the shopper journey:

Maximize the value of your data

Realize the true value of your data by unifying disparate data sources across the shopper journey, discovering insights that enable better experiences.

  • Accenture/Avanade. ai.RETAIL brings together a portfolio of data and analytics products designed to accelerate speed-to-value by solving pertinent business problems.
  • Analytic Partners. GPS Enterprise is Analytic Partners’ proprietary, holistic platform for predictive analytics and return on marketing optimization.
  • dunnhumby. Dunnhumby’s Shop and Assortment offer both retailers and brands fast access to powerful insights pointing directly at what shoppers really want.
  • DXC Technology enables data-driven insights super charging a retailer’s data transformation journey. This allows retailers to shift their focus towards actions that will drive impactful outcomes and increase ROI.
  • TCS Optumera™ is an award-winning AI-powered, advanced prescriptive analytics and optimization platform for strategic and intelligent decision making.

Elevate the shopping experience

Transform the shopping experience through data analytics and new store technology to create more engaged shoppers with stronger lifetime value.

  • Adobe. Adobe Experience Platform brings multiple data streams together to fuel real-time customer profiles to deliver experiences powered by continuous intelligence.
  • Hanshow‘s Planogram Monitoring quickly determines depleted stock on shelves as well as providing a handy overview of the display information of all shelf items.
  • LS Retail. LS First is an all-in-one software solution for retail and services industries that allows you to manage your business’s inventory, transactions, and staff engagement.
  • Optimizely Commerce Cloud allows you to create hyper-personalized shopping experiences through the hybrid power of content and commerce with one intuitive solution.
  • SES-Imagotag. The VUSION Retail IoT Cloud Platform enables retailers to transform their physical stores into high-value digital assets, that are more efficient, data-driven, connected to brands and consumers, while providing a better overall shopping experience.
  • Sitecore Experience Platform™ allows you to power your online stores with content and gain data-driven recommendations to create a hyper personalized experience during this retail journey demo.
  • Sparo leverages corporate social responsibility (CSR) into increased online sales and customer loyalty by marrying ecommerce and charity at the checkout page.

Build a real-time, sustainable supply chain

Create an agile, resilient, and sustainable supply chain by connecting data across your ecosystem to enhance time to value.

  • Blue Yonder is a single, dynamic demand forecast solution, connected by AI and ready for execution by an empowered workforce.
  • FarEye provides an intelligent delivery platform that is flexible, configurable, and agile; designed to provide predictive sustainable visibility & orchestration to brands for the final mile.
  • K3 showcases, in real time, the ability to track supply chain stages and inventory control to optimize assortments whilst augmenting channel management to respond to consumer demand.
  • KPMG business led transformation with D365 Supply Chain and Intelligent Order Management. Analyze real-time omnichannel data to maintain business continuity, help minimize risk, and anticipate potential supply chain disruption.
  • Newmine’s Chief Returns Officer is the only AI-powered SaaS platform that aims to prevent returns from occurring in the first place. This positively impacts customer satisfaction, revenue, and of course, protects the environment.
  • SAS® for Predict and Plan Consumer Demand connects demand planning with transportation planning to achieve supply chain resiliency. Use machine learning to predict near-term, lane-level horizons, plan efficiently and respond quickly to disruptions.

Empower the store associate

Equip your store associate with solutions to enable real-time store communications, workforce management, and store automation.

  • Blue Yonder is launching the Shifts Connector for Microsoft Teams which has new functionality that allows both frontline workers and frontline managers to view and manage shift schedules that are controlled by a workforce management solution (WFM), directly within Microsoft Teams.
  • Zebra. Reflexis Workforce Scheduler is an AI-Powered Workforce Management tool that allows you to optimize labor budgeting, forecasting, and scheduling of the store associates.

We are honored to have these five-star partners with us for the general availability of Microsoft Cloud for Retail.

What’s next?

We invite you to join Microsoft and our partners as we create unique, valuable, and rewarding shopping experiences for our retail customers.