Retailers today truly see their beginning, middle and end as revolving around the customer. The same can be said of the technologies they’re using.

Some are using data to better understand customers, some are creating a more seamless shopping experience, and others are completely reimagining the shopping experience in its entirety. But all have one thing in common: using data to transform and optimize key processes, services, and operations.

While shoppers are still hitting the stores before the end of 2018, leading retailers are making investments to future-proof their businesses so they can exceed customer expectations season after season. Let’s dig into a few examples.

Walmart launches its new cloud factory

Walmart and Microsoft announced the next step in their five-year strategic partnership to accelerate Walmart’s digital transformation: opening a “cloud factory” in Austin, Texas.

This new cloud factory will serve as the physical launching point for collaboration among Walmart and Microsoft engineers. Starting with the customer and working backwards, they aim to reimagine the future of retail and increase business agility using the compute power and elasticity of Microsoft’s cloud offerings.

The cloud factory will open in early 2019, with plans to migrate thousands of internal business applications and innovate new products and services nearly off the ground.

Gap transforms the workplace—and its customer experiences

Gap Inc. is also betting on cloud technologies to create a modern workplace for employees around the globe and to create new customer experiences across its family of brands.

Gap will migrate hundreds of applications to Microsoft Azure to gain a comprehensive view of the customer and support a more seamless customer experience across digital and physical stores.

Employees will use Microsoft 365 collaboration tools to facilitate communication and productivity. These capabilities will scale to the entire portfolio of Gap brands and products across multiple channels in more than 90 countries, and over 3,100 company-operated stores. This type of transformation allows Gap to respond with agility within a quickly evolving retail landscape and increasing expectations from consumers for personalized experiences.

Nielsen makes one of the largest consumer datasets more accessible

Nielsen is enabling retailers to put customers – and insights about their customers – at the center by connecting disparate sets of data to spot emerging trends and opportunities.

As announced in November, Nielsen and Microsoft have partnered together to offer an enterprise data solution that democratizes one of the largest consumer data sets in the world. Already live today, the solution offers a unified platform for creating scalable, high-performance data environments. Their alliance grew out of a mutual commitment to helping retailers achieve growth through innovation.

The two companies will continue to empower retailers to break down silos between customer and operational data to achieve insights through a new generation of retail solutions.

Fruit of the Loom delivers supply chains backed by science

Meanwhile, Fruit of the Loom is focused on using data science to build an “intelligent” supply chain based on multiple information inputs.

The companies processed vast amounts of data to pinpoint the specific temperature change that prompts consumers to buy warmer clothes: a 12 degree drop within six days.

The companies then developed a Power BI dashboard to cross weather and inventory data, so Fruit of the Loom could flag retailers with low stocks and help arrange for new shipments to arrive before cold customers rush to stores. Fruit of the Loom now uses these kinds of findings to more accurately and intelligently manage inventory to better meet customer needs.

The next frontier of data-driven retail

We’re always excited to see how our partners are making the most of new technologies to transform the customer experience.

From offering more personalized and relevant shopping experiences to customers, to using operational data to manage stock and supply chains, all four of these partner stories demonstrate the sheer power of data-driven retail.

Learn how you can enable intelligent technology in your retail business with our retail trends playbook.