NRF 2016: Microsoft outlines the future of unified commerce

Lindsay James
Lindsay James
By Lindsay James on 18 January 2016
NRF 2016: Microsoft outlines the future of unified commerce

NRF 2016 has opened its doors and, as always, the team at Microsoft is using the event to showcase its future vision for the industry and to highlight a number of new customers and technologies.

Tracy Issel, Microsoft’s general manager for Worldwide Retail, says that this year Microsoft’s focus is all about the customer. “I’m excited to highlight innovations that keep customers at the centre of the retail experience – from new ways to engage with shoppers to modern technology that speeds up the checkout process,” she explains in a press release issued today.

“This renewed, customer-focused approach is part of an evolution from omni-channel to unified commerce, in which shoppers no longer have to choose between the rich selection of online shopping and the service and attention of an in-store experience. Instead, new tools, systems and solutions, including the power of the cloud, create a truly seamless customer experience across digital retail and the brick-and-mortar store.”

Issel says that on the NRF show floor, Microsoft is unveiling new solutions and retail customer implementations that bring this experience to life, including a brand engagement tool from L’Oréal and an app that enables a whole new way to shop for groceries. The new technologies are helping retailers create the next level of customer service, with more personalised interactions supported by machine learning, analytics and the cloud. They parallel the power of Microsoft’s existing solutions, including Microsoft Dynamics for Retail, which runs across devices from cash registers to tablets for seamless inventory management, enterprise resource planning and information-sharing.

L’Oréal Paris is partnering with TokyWoky to build a CRM solution using Microsoft Azure cloud and analytics technologies that leveraged crowd-sourcing to give customers real-life insights from fellow users of L’Oréal beauty products.

With Microsoft’s new solutions, retailers can now see which aisles are drawing shoppers’ attention, present customised offers in real time, manage inventory and streamline the checkout process. Stores can now capture a level of insight previously only available through Web analytics, enabling retailers to offer memorable, immersive experiences that build customer loyalty and engagement.

Newly affordable in-store technologies such as beacons, near-field communications and Wi-Fi networks help retailers track customers’ movements to give them valuable product information they want, when they want it, in an unobtrusive way. A retailer can now see when a shopper is viewing specific cosmetics and offer a tailored discount, and a shopper can use a smartphone to scan a product to see ingredients or usage directions. This seamless flow of information across devices, from corporate systems to a customer’s phone, enables retailers to engage with individuals as never before.

“At NRF this year, we’re showcasing a number of Microsoft customers who are testing and deploying modern retail solutions that are helping them increase sales, build loyalty and transform their business,” Issel says.

For example, Macy’s is showcasing reimagined productivity of store floor employees using a sleek modern dashboard. Designed and developed by Confiz, this solution uses Microsoft Azure and delivers an engaging experience over Surface 3 tablets with Windows 10 to help their management team be more productive wherever they are in the store.

L’Oréal Paris is partnering with TokyWoky to build a CRM solution using Microsoft Azure cloud and analytics technologies that leveraged crowd-sourcing to give customers real-life insights from fellow users of L’Oréal beauty products. The next evolution of the tool will use Power BI to generate data reports to learn more about visitor concerns and transformations.

Mondelez International is demonstrating the diji-touch vending machine, whose interactive 3-D digital display lets customers view products and nutrition information, and receive advertising alerts about promotions and games where they have the opportunity to get free samples. The Windows 10 universal app also allows more efficient and proactive maintenance and support for the machines, while the Azure IoT Dashboard tracks inventory levels and displays machine error notifications and the exact locations for tech support in the field.

Gerrity’s Supermarkets in Pennsylvania is partnering with SKIP to implement a phone-based app that lets customers scan groceries and bag as they go, then skip the lines and use a dedicated express checkout lane. Shoppers using SKIP check out in a fraction of the time it takes other shoppers to scan and pay.

And Fnac is using Office 365, Skype for Business and Yammer to streamline collaboration, empower employees and connect its stores and headquarters. The tools help employees of the French electronics and cultural products retailer get product information, share insights and provide exceptional service to shoppers.


Topics

News, Retail

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