Technology Record - Issue 22: Autumn 2021

188 www. t e c h n o l o g y r e c o r d . c om run a chain of small contactless, employee-less 24/7 convenience stores in rural areas of Sweden. Customers use the Lifvs mobile app to unlock the stores and purchase items by scanning their barcodes. The app also provides relevant recipe suggestions, bundle deals and personalised pro- motional offers. “Technology tracks stock levels and sell-by dates in real time, and a member of staff visits the store every other day to restock the shelves,” says Minbiole. “It’s a great example showing how retailers could rethink the way they use human capital to provide services to customers. A front- line worker may spend most of their day assisting customers in person, and also get on Teams to help people navigate the store remotely. This can increase the employee’s sense of purpose because they quickly broaden their work experience, and create better customer experiences.” It may also lead to the emergence of the omnichannel retail associate. “For years, omnichannel retail has promised to break down barriers between our physical and online shop- ping experiences and the pandemic accelerated these expectations,” says Minbiole. “Retailers have adapted admirably by investing in new technologies and introducing new services, but the pandemic highlighted that many frontline workers still lack insight into supply chains, real-time inventory data, customer information and much more. Retailers must now invest to ensure these employees have the tools, skills and data they need to deliver truly omnichan- nel retail experiences. “Of course, the success of true omnichan- nel retail depends on more than just employee enablement, but one is not possible without the other because they are two sides of the same coin. Microsoft and our partners are committed to help retailers develop the innovative tech- nologies and solutions that will enable them to achieve this goal.” F E ATUR E “Technology tracks stock levels and sell-by dates in real time, and a member of staff visits the store every other day to restock the shelves” We ask selected Microsoft partners how they are leveraging Microsoft’s cloud platform and other technologies to create solutions that will help retailers empower their employees, boost productivity and deliver compelling customer services, both in store and online Partner perspectives “Covid-19 has forced the retail industry to learn some important lessons. The boundary between in-store and online has blurred and customer service has had to change in accordance with this development. Customers expect a single, seamless conversation across devices, channels and interactions. Agents need to be able to converse with customers via their preferred channel and have access to contextual information so they can pick up each conversation where it left off. Retailers should also offer automation where appropriate so that customers can serve themselves. Solgari is meeting these needs with Converse, our all-channel communication solution. Converse extends and enhances Microsoft’s out- of-the-box omnichannel capabilities with voice, SMS, WhatsApp, WeChat, Facebook Messenger and Chat functionality. It integrates seamlessly with Dynamics 365 and Microsoft Teams, leveraging the industry cloud to deliver optimised customer experiences, increased throughput and maximised first-call resolution rates. All of this is achieved through a single solution that delivers a unified view of contact centre and communication data for operational analysis, measurement and refinement.” Sebastien Roques-Shaw Vice President of EMEA Sales and Partnerships at Solgari