Technology Record - Issue 33: Summer 2024

135 Microsoft partner Sitecore, for example, is leveraging the speed, power and scale of Azure to provide retailers with customisable, headless e-commerce platforms built around their customers’ needs. Sitecore Experience Cloud enables firms to drive their digital transformation with the flexibility of the cloud and new capabilities in artificial intelligence and machine learning. In addition, retailers can optimise their inventory management and warehouse management systems thanks to comprehensive visibility and real-time data and analysis with Microsoft Dynamics 365, allowing them to fulfil customer orders quickly and prevent shortages or excessive volumes of unsold goods. Brands, manufacturers and retailers can learn about the benefits of Dynamics 365 enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management solutions through our Microsoft cloud solution providers such as Sunrise Technologies. While e-commerce has experienced significant growth over the years, in-store shopping remains popular. According to Forrester’s US Online Retail Forecast, 2023 To 2028, an estimated 72 per cent of retail sales will still be taking place in physical stores in 2028. However, just because a store is physical doesn’t mean retailers can’t integrate new technologies to enhance the shopping experience. For example, Cooler Screens helps retailers to digitise their in-store experience and automate merchandising with its digital smart screens, which are powered by Azure. The screens provide additional product information for customers while also providing insight from advanced analytics and internet of things sensors to improve the on-shelf availability. The personalisation and advertising opportunities that retail media provides will translate to more revenue for retailers. Another way stores can utilise cloud technology is to collect data from multiple sources and transform it into business intelligence insights in real time, enabling faster and more informed decisions. By monitoring which parts of stores customers spend more time in, for example, managers can gain a real-time sense of how to arrange products to maximise sales. The Store Operations Analytics Suite by Microsoft partner Fractal Analytics uses video analytics powered by Azure to provide realtime insight into customer behaviour, including traffic counts, conversion rates and customer journey mapping. This enables retailers to understand their customers’ motivations and preferences for in-store displays and inventory management. With customer demands always evolving, the businesses that remain competitive in the coming years will be those that are effectively using new technologies to enhance their shopping experience. Learn more about cloud technologies for retail at: Ricardo Belmar is director of partner marketing for retail and consumer goods at Microsoft RETAIL & CONSUMER GOODS Retailers can enhance their in-store advertising by using smart screens from Cooler Screens, which are powered by Azure Photo: Cooler Screens