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NRF 2020: Microsoft’s Take on Digital Technology in Retail Industry

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Digital technology has transformed the way businesses operate across the globe. Interestingly enough, it is not just the businesses but also the consumers that have embraced the digital transformation in their daily lives. Rightly then, the businesses are creating solutions that are user-centric to create something that resonates well with consumers. In our times the retail industry is definitely taking long strides in keeping up with consumer requirements. In a recently held NRF 2020 event, Satya Nadella gave a sneak-peek into Microsoft’s take on digital technology in the retail industry. Retail businesses that understand the importance of digital transformation will deeply benefit by looking at how the leading industries are doing it. We’d like to share what stands out for us from this Keynote and how businesses can take advantage of these insights:

Retail Industry Fact: 31% of the world’s GDP revolves around or comes from the retail industry. From a digital perspective, the fact is that 40 petabytes of data are being generated in the retail industry every hour. Keeping the above figures in mind, what steps can the retailers take to make the best use of this data? 92 of the top 100 retailers from around the world are using Microsoft’s Cloud Platform and are making the data work for them.

Using The Mammoth Data in Retail

Intelligent retail is not a myth anymore…gone are the days when the calculated guesses were effective. Intelligent decision making starts with knowing customers. It all boils down to how do you use all that data and know more about consumer behavioural understanding. How do you empower people that work for you? Digital technology and data and insights that you give them can change how retail shapes up. Digitally you can bring your back office to the front office and implement a seamless process to give a premium experience to your customers. Rather than reinventing the wheel, digital technology is helping retailers to reinvent the business strategies and make solid decisions. The question then is not how much data is being generated but how effective are you in making the best use of what is available and being generated every day. 

Technology need in 2020

As the market shifts to intelligent retailing, every retailer has the personal responsibility to build their own tech intensity. Retail in itself is an art, and so building tech intensity does not mean to take away this unique art of retail but reinforcing the core operation and excellence of retail. The trick here is to be quick and efficient in adopting and implementing new technology in the business. Choose the appropriate digital capability, and once you build it into your system, you need to take pride in what you have done. One of the things that retailers find challenging is to build trust, security, privacy, and security around AI. However, with the wealth of knowledge and technology that exists out there, it is crucial that businesses do take out time to understand it better and be confident in how it will help expedite their business.

The Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella further stated that “We want to enable and empower you to have tech intensity. So that is a singular mission. 2020 is not about growing dependence on us but it is helping you build independence when it comes to digital technology.” This would mean, retailers will also have to become technology smart and take initiative in building their own independent technology stack. 

Personalization in Digital retail

In the current market scenario, 30% of eCommerce sales are happening because of recommendations. 80% of consumers expect you to offer personalized things so that they will not have to take out a lot of time in making the buying decision. With a gigantic amount of data available, it is wise to make use of the data as an asset and turn it into a personalized digital experience for the consumers. A retail company with AI is not any data in one system but your ability to take it across all systems. 

  • Starbucks

Starbucks is one of the most renowned brands across the globe, but their thirst to implement the best digital technology is still the same. Recently, they built their own AI technology called “Deep Brew.” They built this with reinforcement learning and it’s driving their recommendation to the consumers. They are using artificial technology to make it possible for every Starbucks partner to serve their customers. So they have their own AI capabilities. This shows that they are not just relying on cloud or AI, but they are building their own tech capabilities to provide personalized experiences to their customers.

  • Walgreens

Walgreens is another classic example. It is interesting to know that around 8 million customers daily walk-in to Walgreens and looking for products that they need. The retailer needs to be sure that they always have the appropriate products for 8 million people. And it will be different for how do you do it. The retailers make good use of the data and sensing capabilities together to get this clarity. Data tells what they are doing, customers tell them what they use and what they need. Basically, the retailers have just for the right technology in the right place and the information just flows in seamlessly. So that they can coordinate the supply chain to use data effectively. The azure platform gave speed and horsepower to pivot the data. It is now more than easy for the retailer to understand the buying behaviour to take action fast as 9000 of their stores are in sync and the financial performance of the company has improved further. 

Making the Digital Shift

It is not easy to shift to a digital platform and make personalized experiences for customers without the right technology. With so much of digitalization possibilities out there, why not explore the right tech stack for your retail industry? As technology takes over the many customer-facing industries, it is time to keep up with the trend and provide the most user-friendly and effective services to the customers. If limitation in technology is one of the reasons stopping you from making the digital shift, check out how WalkingTree Technologies can help you with implementing the appropriate technology in your business. 

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