As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to impact all aspects of our lives, the retail industry remains among the hardest hit. Changes in how we shop are being driven by necessity, as non-essential stores are closed and consumers look for new ways to shop. The Microsoft Cloud for Retail provides new hope for the sector.

Many retailers have made significant changes to processes and introduced the use of different channels. Understanding how consumers are now shopping can drive further improvements and allow the industry to develop more digital based solutions. However, access to data is necessary to identify those changes. This month, Microsoft have announced the private preview of the Microsoft Cloud for Retail, an industry specific cloud service, designed to allow data to be brought together and unlocked through a common data model. Microsoft Cloud for Retail will enable retailers to build on existing features of Dynamics 365 Commerce, and incorporate the Microsoft Power Platform, Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Advertising (formerly known as Bing Ads).

Let’s dive a little deeper into how The Microsoft Cloud for Retail helps empower the industry.

Customer intelligence

It has never been more important to use data-driven insights to understand and get closer to your customers. Using data smartly, retailers can anticipate their customers needs and create better experiences for their customers – something that will keep them coming back for more. This has been particularly important during the pandemic, with negative experiences running the risk of losing your organisation customers for good.

The Microsoft Cloud for Retail empowers organisations to gain a better understanding of your customers, allowing them to drive personalised experiences with content and communications. Dynamics 365 Commerce views and retail purchases provides analysis of trends, which AI further enhances to drive customer engagement.

Engage Employees

While many retail shops have faced closures because of Covid-19, some remain open for the likes of click and collect and supermarket footfall has surged. Store employees are frequently the customer touchpoint of a retail business, and cloud-based technologies can be used to enhance both their work and the customer experience.

Cloud powered handheld devices in retail stores can be used to check stock levels in other stores and warehouses, or access additional product information. The same device can be used to access Microsoft Teams for training sessions and company information, or to communicate with other employees. All actions drive employee engagement and ensure consistent information.

Supply chain management

Through seamless integration with Dynamics 365 Finance and Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management clear visibility of stock over all sites and warehouses is provided. This empowers organisations to drive efficient distribution of materials.

Your supply chain is visible all the way from purchase to end delivery, whether to a physical retail store or to an eCommerce customer. Data analysis can highlight opportunities for improvement in supply and delivery and can pre-empt potential issues.

Create new opportunities

While customer and market intelligence can suggest new ideas for product lines or more effective promotion strategies, the 360-degree view of your products and customer journeys within the Microsoft Cloud for Retail could provide that lightbulb moment that could revolutionise your business.

The Microsoft Cloud for Retail provides the data link for existing business solutions or new PowerApps that are specific to the individual retail requirement. This allowsdata to be shared and analysed, enabling your data to power future decision-making.

Find out more about the Microsoft Cloud for Retail

In a challenging climate for the retail industry, Microsoft Cloud for Retail provides the opportunity to streamline access to data, simplify analysis and provide opportunities for rapid retail development. In the current fast-paced environment of change, fuelled by the pandemic, immediate access to that analysis has become vital for the industry. To find out more about Dynamics 365 Commerce, download our guide – deliver an exceptional omnichannel experience.