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Dynamics 365

The innovations and brands reshaping retail experiences in 2019

This week, at NRF 2019—Retail’s Big Show—we’re excited to showcase both new innovations that will transform retail in 2019 and retail brands we’re working with to reinvent the customer experience, including Dr. Martens, Goodwill, and Stefano Ricci.

Knowing your customer has never been more critical. Success is ever more dependent on harnessing data—everything from customer preferences to product availability. These are all digital activities, where the data is already easily collected and analyzed, and automated actions are often triggered based on levers such as personalized emails, web, or ad experiences. But what about the physical spaces in retail stores? How can we apply similar technologies to transform the consumer shopping experience in physical stores?

Some data is already collected in physical stores, but what’s new and exciting is the blending and integration of the digital and physical world data types—People, Places, & Things—and applying AI on top of this data. This is the key that helps to unlock new and differentiated shopping experiences in physical retail stores.

Last week my colleague, Shelley Bransten (CVP, Retail and Consumer Goods Industries), shared some insights into how Microsoft is delivering on the promise of intelligent retail. She talked about how leading retailers are using the Microsoft Cloud as a competitive differentiator, from using AI to create transformative customer and employee experiences, to embracing IoT to leverage their supply chains for maximum customer impact, to using cloud-based business applications to manage everything from the customer journey to operations.

In addition to that work, we are also investing in exciting new capabilities to Azure and Dynamics 365 business applications to help transform the consumer shopping experiences in physical stores. New experiences such as personalized shopping assistance, digital shelf ads and pricing, real-time store navigation and in-aisle checkout are quickly becoming the consumer expectation. To enable this, we are bringing capabilities to Azure to more easily map real-word physical spaces and the ability to reason and surface these insights in our Dynamics 365 business applications.

This is an exciting space that we are actively investing in, and we look forward to sharing more in the coming months.

Three ways brands are modernizing customer experiences

Some amazing retail brands are already deploying Microsoft Business Applications and partner solutions to modernize customer experiences, with three innovative use cases in common:

More personalization

By understanding who is in your store at any given moment—demographics on age and gender, as well as inference of intent and sentiment—store associates can provide proactive and tailored customer of assistance.

Dr. Martens—the iconic British footwear brand—is making big strides to reinvent the in-store experience. They’ve partnered with Microsoft and Hitachi Solutions to integrate ‘Retail Awareness’ across their operations, a platform built on Dynamics 365, Power BI, Azure Machine Learning, Azure IoT Hub, and Microsoft Azure Data Bricks.

This solution will improve customer experiences by surfacing insights on buying patterns and demographics, allowing sales associates to provide real-time contextual recommendations. In addition, stores will receive automated, AI-driven priorities and insights, like hour-to-hour revenue dashboards, helping every retail location focus on what’s important.

Leading luxury men’s apparel retailer, Stefano Ricci, is also deploying artificial intelligence to better understand and anticipate customers’ needs and behaviors. They are using Dynamics 365 and partner SB Soft’s Power NBA (Next Best Action) solution to hyper-personalize the customer experience, improving how they proactively present personalized recommendations at every touchpoint—in store and online.

Accurate pricing, inventory and promotions

You may have heard of our partnership with Kroger to pilot digital shelf pricing and promotions in their stores. By using Microsoft Azure to store and process the data generated in stores, near the smart shelves and on Kroger’s app, the digital stores can enable personalized ads and digital shelf pricing.

Relatedly, one of the largest resale retailers in the world, Goodwill, is deploying Microsoft Dynamics 365 to find the right buyers, at the right price, for thousands of donated items.

Goodwill’s retail revenue, as well as private donations and grants, fund career-track programs that serve tens of thousands of people each year. The more money its thrift stores make, the more money is invested in its career-track programs. That’s why Goodwill of Central and Northern Arizona is setting out to modernize its point-of-sale system, inventory management, and customer engagement solutions. Microsoft Dynamics 365 will allow Goodwill to optimize pricing for the tons of goods donated weekly, move product faster across physical and online storefronts, and allow customers to more easily donate to Goodwill programs during checkout.

Smart merchandising

Finally, understanding flow and traffic patterns through the store can provide ease of navigation and faster checkouts. Performance can also be analyzed across aisles and endcaps, to full store floor maps, or across multiple stores to optimize product placement.

Dr. Martens, for example, now has access to intelligent merchandising tools that will enable tailored planograms for specific stores—helping each store to align to local and regional style and cultural trends.

Check back for more success stories as our retail customers innovate the showroom floor experience in 2019.

Learn what’s in store for retail in 2019

In case you missed it, we just released the 2019 Retail Trends Report—a survey of six trending areas of focus to create exceptional shopping experience for customers. It’s a great companion to our new eBook–Why Choose Dynamics 365 for Retail?—an great overview of what’s possible when you transform retail operations with Dynamics 365.