Technology Record - Issue 33: Summer 2024

128 FEATURE Microsoft Cloud for Retail can provide a unified data platform for retailers to use across all their stores and headquarters. With a holistic view of their data, these organisations not only gain access to actionable insights but also adopt other AI-enabled tools easier. Those tools include the new templates designed for retail organisations in Microsoft’s Copilot Studio, which, for example, can be used to create customer service or human resources chatbots for their employees. Through natural language and real-time data collection, frontline workers get instant answers for questions on operating procedures, policies on topics such as product returns and more. Microsoft partners are also working to develop their own tools that integrate with Microsoft’s offerings. Sitecore OrderCloud, for example, unifies customer profiles and order data, providing frontline workers with a better understanding of the people they serve daily and what they are seeking. Better for everyone Retailers considering the value of investing in AI tools for their frontline workforce need to consider the benefits it would bring to employees, customers and the business overall. “Retail is a people-oriented business,” says Minbiole. “Employees are the largest asset on the balance sheet for a retail organisation, and that asset needs to be used in the most efficient and innovative way to keep your purpose alive and thriving. “A human-centred strategy powered by technology enables employees to develop their business’s intellectual property by using AI to bring their own insights back into the company’s decision-making process.” In central and eastern Europe, footwear retailer CCC Group has realised these benefits. Frontline workers from around 800 stores previously used email to communicate, manage tasks and share reports. This caused problems when it came to gathering and distributing information such as store feedback. CCC Group’s solution was to set up a global Teams channel for company-wide communication and feedback. Regional and store-specific operational channels were created for daily tasks, reports and surveys. The firm also consolidated frontline employee support in Teams. This allows employees to ask questions in a designated chat where an expert can quickly respond, removing the need to worry about having the right contact information or email address. This has not only streamlined communications for frontline workers but has also improved sustainability. Previously, key CCC Group is using Microsoft Teams to support communication between its stores and its frontline workers Photo: CCC Group