Every new yr introduces new alternatives and challenges, however 2020 was distinctive. The pandemic massively disrupted retail organizations resulting from ongoing shelter-in-place orders and social distancing necessities. Customers tailored, driving 9 years’ price of e-commerce development in 90 days.
Retailers responded by dramatically accelerating their digital transformation journeys to give attention to prioritizing buyer well being and security, reimagining channel retail experiences, and enabling data-driven determination making.
So, as we put together for NRF 2021—the affiliation’s first all-digital-event—we’re reflecting on the industry’s unimaginable, ongoing adaptation to pandemic-driven tendencies and the impression in 2021 and past.
Resilience: pushed by folks, enabled by expertise
The unrivaled efficiency of Microsoft Azure permits our prospects to intelligently handle safe workloads throughout a number of websites and domains, scale these workloads to course of thousands and thousands of requests per second, and enhance the logistics to handle every order. Azure Knowledge and AI providers assist retailers reply to market forces, enhance decision-making, and put prospects first by breaking down their information silos to handle, merge, form, and analyze the information and, in consequence, uncover actionable insights.
With Azure, retailers get one of the best of at-scale cloud, information, and AI workloads together with industry information fashions that allow information administration, governance, and area excellence in a single cloud platform from a supplier that doesn’t compete with them. In consequence, retailers can construct higher digital suggestions loops—the connections between their prospects, their folks, their shops, their information, and the insights on the coronary heart of every—on a platform from a trusted accomplice.
Take, for instance, Albertsons Firms’ migration from an getting older on-premises server farm to Microsoft Azure. The transfer enabled a contemporary, on-demand purchasing expertise for purchasers and sharpened the group’s aggressive edge. State-of-the-art AI and cognitive providers mixed with an progressive developer surroundings helped Albertsons rapidly introduce easy-to-use apps to make purchasing quicker and supply customers a extra personalised, streamlined expertise.
To assist decide which merchandise prospects need, Walgreens wanted course of, analyze, and report on huge quantities of retailer information day by day. In three months, Walgreens was in a position to migrate its total on-premises information warehouse for stock administration into Microsoft Azure Synapse Analytics. After shifting to Azure Synapse Analytics, Walgreens has dramatically improved sure points of operations, lowered its complete value of possession, and modernized enterprise processes and determination making.
Related, custom-made experiences
With the ability to harness, normalize, and form their information utilizing Azure’s open ecosystem, retailers can unleash the advantages of AI and machine studying to assist remodel enterprise outcomes by:
- Reimagining retail. Microsoft Azure allows related units and experiences with straightforward, scalable, and safe providers for retailers. Utilizing the Spatial Evaluation characteristic of Laptop Imaginative and prescient, a part of Azure Cognitive Companies, retailers can deploy highly effective AI fashions based mostly on retailer and buyer information. This permits them to evaluate retailer exercise to make sure social distancing and sanitization necessities are met. It additionally can be utilized to ship perception on how prospects work together with shows and merchandise. Additional, utilizing Azure Digital Twins, retailers can successfully mannequin a digital illustration of their format, provide chain, logistics, and extra. AI will also be used to supply personalised real-time suggestions for purchasers and ship clever conversational brokers that enhance buyer experiences and supply significant incentives and promotions with buyer loyalty packages.
In at this time’s retail environments, the scalability of a commerce platform is essential. The brand new Elera Commerce microservices platform supplies connections to Toshiba, third-party, or retailer APIs, permitting prospects to be agile and adaptive as they make adjustments to key areas resembling cellular POS, returns, darkish shops, centralized pricing, loyalty packages, and promotions. Leveraging Azure Cosmos DB’s automated partitioning of knowledge and large elastic scalability, Toshiba’s Elera platform was collectively deployed for manufacturing to allow a centralized omnichannel refunds functionality bringing operational effectivity and considerably bettering buyer expertise. This enterprise-grade answer allows prospects to modernize their retail platforms in much less time.
- Figuring out their prospects. Buyers count on distinctive service, and so they’re keen to present manufacturers entry to their information to allow comfort and personalization. However organizational silos usually create obstacles between accessing that coveted data and placing it to work. In reality, 55 p.c of enterprise leaders report information silos and information administration difficulties as roadblocks.
To ship on customers’ personalization and comfort expectations, retailers must develop genuine and accessible end-to-end experiences, which requires understanding their prospects and all their information. Utilizing Microsoft Azure Synapse Analytics, retailers can leverage industry requirements through the Widespread Knowledge Mannequin and an open ecosystem method. With the flexibility to research information from throughout their group, they’ll uncover key insights and apply them to distinctive options that match their priorities and meet their consumers’ wants.
- Constructing a resilient provide chain. In at this time’s digital-physical hybrid purchasing world, an clever, resilient provide chain is a major aggressive benefit. It allows retailers to optimize for pace and price, obtain sustainable profitability, and construct industry-scale suggestions loops. It additionally allows direct-to-consumer alternatives.
Retailers can optimize enterprise useful resource planning within the cloud with SAP-certified infrastructure on Azure in addition to working the excellent set of SAP Digital Provide Chain options on Microsoft Azure.
Present industry main robotic micro-fulfillment options that cut back prices, warehousing area, and enhance supply metrics with Attabotics. Orchestrate a final mile expertise with FarEye. And scale provide chain visibility, permitting them to dynamically replace supply-chain planning, and automate decision-making utilizing Blue Yonder.
To allow transformation throughout all these areas, Microsoft Techniques Integrator Accenture has developed a brand new providing known as Retail Utilized Intelligence, generally known as ai.RETAIL. The answer is designed to ship worthwhile development utilizing main AI, purpose-built for retail to allow a deep understanding of consumers, scale personalization, and stability pace and price all through the availability chain.
Clever options for future-ready retail
We sit up for supporting our retail prospects with an clever, industry-focused, safe platform delivered by a trusted accomplice—Microsoft Azure. Right now we introduced the preview of the Microsoft Cloud for Retail, and Azure is worked up to be a foundational platform of this industry particular cloud answer.
Go to Azure for retail to be taught extra about our multichannel retail options and Microsoft Cloud for Retail.