Four ways retailers can provide great customer experiences

Four ways retailers can provide great customer experiences
Microsoft’s Shelley Bransten talks about finding success by being customer-focused

Elly Yates-Roberts |

Retailers should be “obsessively” customer-focused and prioritise four key strategies to ensure they provide engaging retail experiences, according to Shelley Bransten, corporate vice-president of Retail and Consumer Goods at Microsoft. 

In a recent blogpost, Bransten noted that mobile and online shopping trends are making it necessary for retailers to anticipate what their customers want and then deliver it when and where they want it. Microsoft is helping its customers use data to understand their customers and therefore better serve them. 

“It’s all about using intelligent technologies to help retailers transform their companies and create fresh customer-obsessed ways of doing business,” she wrote. “It doesn’t matter what a retailer sells or how large (or small) they are – the potential for transformation has never been greater. It’s exciting, and it’s filled with opportunity.”

Bransten also outlined four strategies retailers should follow to improve the customer experience, including: 

1. Know your customers better than they know themselves
Microsoft is helping its customers anticipate their own customers’ needs by getting insights from data. 

“Take, for instance, Nielsen Connect,” said Bransten. “The solution uses data science and machine learning to curate and aggregate data and feed it back to retailers. And when you layer in predictive analytics, we bring retailers that much closer to divining what customers want. When retailers augment their intelligence with these technologies, they can make smarter decisions that turn data into dollars.”

2. Empower your employees to provide the best customer experience
“It’s about understanding that every retail employee is a brand ambassador, so supporting them with technologies that help them do their jobs better creates better customer experiences,” said Bransten. Innovations such as Teams for Firstline Workers are already helping empower employees. 

3. Equip your supply chain to anticipate and exceed customer demand
“Reimagining your supply chain means using data to anticipate what your customers will need and where they’ll need it before even they know,” said Bransten. “This is exactly what [clothing manufacturer] Fruit of the Loom did when it started using weather data and predictive analytics to ensure its retail partners were well stocked with fleece products ahead of a cold spell.”

4. Reimagine retail to create new experiences
Many retailers see customers find a product on their shelves and then check their smartphones to see if it’s cheaper somewhere online. “What if you could get ahead of that with smart displays that use analytics to adjust the numbers in real-time based on available data and offer flash deals that match the best price at popular online retailers?” said Bransten. “By making it easier for the customer to buy, you keep the sale in the store and build loyalty to boot.”

Kroger is already doing this with its EDGE Shelf which uses Microsoft Azure, artificial intelligence and more. Using LED displays instead of traditional paper tags means that pricing in the whole store can be updated in minutes. The store can also customise promotions in real time based on the customer’s previous purchases.

Read the full blog post. 

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