Microsoft is to demonstrate how technology will change the retail industry in 2014 at the National Retail Federation Big Show (NRF) from 12-15 January in New York, US.
The company will showcase a number of customers successfully using the Microsoft platform and a number of new product offerings to transform customer engagement. Various Microsoft partners will also unveil new applications and services built using Microsoft technologies.
“The retail landscape has changed a great deal over the past few years,” said Susan Hauser, corporate vice president, enterprise and partner group at Microsoft, in a recent blog post. “In some cases, consumers walk into stores knowing more about the products than store associates, or they relegate the in-store experience to showrooming – checking out things in the store, then buying them elsewhere at a lower cost.”
In her blog post, Hauser indicated that technology is rapidly changing consumer shopping behaviour, preferences and expectations by enabling shoppers to access information through online channels, apps and mobile devices. She also highlighted the three key ways retailers can capitalise on recent technological innovations to ensure they remain successful in 2014. These include:
Creating unified experiences across connected devices
The proliferation of devices is enabling retailers to explore how mobility can create a more seamless experience with improved access to information, better collaboration and familiar productivity applications.
Enabling smarter operations
Retailers can connect and analyse data from both the front and the back office to gain enhanced business insights and optimise resources, which saves time and maximises profitability. For instance, Hauser indicates that Microsoft technologies can bring real-time data to suppliers about what is currently in stock on a store shelf without requiring employees to do a physical inventory in the store.
According to Hauser, many retailers are using new productivity tools and social communication channels to create mobile workers and store associates across their companies. By using tools such as Office 365 and Yammer to foster communication and collaboration between employees, retailers can ensure their teams are able to provide customers with real time information, offering consumers a more personalised, connected shopping experience and enabling them to make more informed decisions.
“When I talk with retailers about the changes in consumer behaviour that technology is driving, I’m excited by the ways in which Microsoft can help,” said Hauser. “ It’s clear that most consumers expect a personalised retail experience and store associates need the right tools to help them serve their customers and succeed in an always-on world. Successful retailers are reimagining how they can effectively use data, devices and new opportunities to their advantage – to not only meet consumer expectations, but to go beyond it to create standout experiences.”
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