A retail manager using Dynamics 365 Remote Assist on HoloLens 2 to collaborate with a remote design expert to display in-store items with the help of 3D annotations

Leading with innovation

As rising costs, supply chain issues, changing consumer behavior, and other challenges continue to mount, retailers need more intelligent cloud solutions and technology to build resilience and achieve more. To build this new level of agility and adaptability, it’s imperative to find new ways to make data-driven decisions through cloud, AI, and mixed reality solutions. This integration of physical and virtual assets to make data-driven decisions is one of the key capabilities of the industrial metaverse.

Retail shop owner working on Microsoft 365 Business Premium a mobile phone and a Surface.

Microsoft Cloud for Retail

Reimagine retail and deliver seamless experiences across the end-to-end shopper journey.

Harnessing technology to meet customers where they are

Consumer behavior has shifted considerably over the last few years, with new patterns of work emerging that put people, communications, and heightened efficiency at the core of what is expected in the retail environment. Seeing and meeting these new opportunities, Microsoft has made significant investments in improving existing technologies, and pioneering new technologies to help our retail organizations better meet the evolving needs of their customers. Retail organizations that are already on this digital transformation journey can protect and extend their investments as they move toward their goals.

One way we are addressing these changing needs is through investments in emerging technologies, such as the industrial and commercial metaverse. In fact, we believe that in the not-so-distant future, the metaverse will play a key role in providing new ways of connecting, working, and delivering services for businesses and retail consumers alike. Our Work Trend Index1 data shows that 50 percent of Gen Z and Millennials envision doing some of their work in the metaverse in the next two years.

As a platform-based company, our approach is to ensure that the software experiences we deliver can benefit users on all their favorite devices. This is especially true for our customers and partners in the retail industry, where we are making great strides to help them update and even revolutionize the way they train their teams, and how they interact with their customers.

By harnessing new and innovative technologies, like those we discussed at Microsoft Ignite 2022, retail organizations can leverage new approaches to drive results to meet customer expectations and achieve long-term success.

Microsoft and the metaverse 

In Judson Althoff’s keynote at Microsoft Ignite 2022, he highlights many of the ways that companies can leverage these emerging technologies to gain a competitive advantage in the weeks, months, and years ahead.

Indeed, while metaverse for consumer, commercial, and industrial applications are still in their early stages of development and applicability, we are already seeing considerable promise for their deployment on a broad scale.    

One area that shows significant promise is the potential to use metaverse to train employees by creating engaging environments for them to learn, practice, and retain the skills they need. Moreover, with the robust tools, resources, and technology that Microsoft offers, paired with the inherent possibilities of the metaverse, retail organizations can create plans and deployments that push broad organizational learning.

As is the case with all new technologies, the metaverse is not without potential risks, and companies must learn how to manage and operate in a metaverse environment safely. One way to do that is by experimenting internally with your own teams before you create a customer-facing metaverse experience.  

One example of an organization that has created an employee-focused metaverse is Accenture. Called the Nth Floor, Accenture’s enterprise metaverse empowers its geographically distributed workforce to meet, collaborate, and learn in immersive environments. These virtual environments are familiar to employees as they are brought to life via digital twins of its physical offices. Within the Nth Floor, Accenture created a virtual campus called One Accenture Park to help new employees personally connect with the culture and build professional relationships.

In 2022, 150,000 new hires are working from the metaverse on their first day at Accenture. Of course, the metaverse is still in its early days. In fact, according to a Gartner®2 report, it will be 10 years before its mainstream adoption. Aside from the need for organizations to learn how to operate and manage, two other things are clear—the requirements in terms of security and computing power will be significant—making the cloud the perfect technology to power metaverse usage. 

A bold new future

Microsoft is working with many retailers on their metaverse future—building accelerators and helping them to plan to maximize return on investment. As we step boldly into this new future, Microsoft is committed to providing our customers and partners the tools and resources they need to take advantage of the many amazing opportunities the metaverse holds.

Learn more

To learn more about Microsoft and the metaverse:

Every year, Microsoft Ignite is our opportunity to showcase the new and exciting innovations that we’ve developed to better equip our customers and partners to succeed. With the speed of tech and cloud innovation, Microsoft Ignite is the ideal platform to learn about how we are helping organizations unleash value quickly, build for the future, and exceed expectations. 

At Microsoft Ignite 2022, we highlighted new and beneficial ways that Microsoft technology is revolutionizing the retail landscape and embracing the power and potential of the metaverse.

Join Alysa Taylor, CVP, Industry, Apps and Data Marketing, and Corey Sanders, CVP, Microsoft Cloud for Industry and Global Expansion Team, for a panel discussion: Microsoft Ignite Into Focus: Industry Clouds.

And be sure to watch these relevant Microsoft Ignite sessions: 

Follow Microsoft Retail on Twitter and visit our Microsoft Cloud for Retail website to get the latest on how Microsoft and our partners are helping retailers deliver a seamless experience across the entire shopper journey.


1Hybrid Work Is Just Work. Are We Doing It Wrong? Work Trend Index Special Report.

2Gartner: Hype Cycle™ for Emerging Technologies, 2022, Melissa Davis, Gary Olliffe, July 2022.

GARTNER is a registered trademark and service mark, and HYPE CYCLE is a registered trademark of Gartner, Inc. and/or its affiliates and are used herein with permission. All rights reserved.