Attention to Retail
Twenty years ago, deciding on a new color for your kitchen walls could be daunting. It meant several trips to the hardware store for paint samples. It meant test patches in different shades of paint on your kitchen walls – and unfortunately, it often meant using your imagination for the rest.
But in recent years, technology has drastically changed the retail experience at every level. Now you can go online and visualize different colors without ever leaving your home. You can walk into a local hardware store, don a HoloLens headset, and instantly see how your kitchen might look with new paint or even counters and appliances.
The difference between these scenarios illustrates the massive change in the retail consumer experience. This upheaval also extends into new consumer spaces—including mobile and social platforms—driving new business models, disrupting competition, and producing customer churn like never before. Behind all of these trends is the digitally empowered consumer – digital natives whose buying habits are changing the core mechanics of the retail and consumer goods industries. In order to stay competitive in the face of disruption organizations have to keep pace and adapt at every level.

The Modern Consumer

Long gone are the days where a consumer would make several trips for a few paint samples. Today’s savvy kitchen painter begins their journey online – potentially even on a smartphone (83% of adults aged 18-49 own one*). Our painter hops online and does a quick comparison between Evening Shadow gray and Morning Fog gray, interacting with the digital storefront to compare prices and consumer reviews.

And if our kitchen painter doesn’t choose and purchase six cans of Morning Fog then and there, they head to the physical hardware store – where they expect their chosen color in stock (or mixed just prior to arrival) and a personalized customer experience which is as expedient and streamlined as the online option.

Modern Retail

The need to integrate digital and physical storefronts is more pressing than ever before – Retailers are being challenged to create a unified and seamless customer experience. The increase in digital interactions with customers, as well as the digitization of business processes creates a flood of valuable data from different sources.

This data holds incredible potential. With recent advances in big data analytics organizations can use their data to inspire actionable business insights to help them compete. Pulling together data from multiple sources, the retailer might provide a recommendation for the quantity of paint needed based on kitchen size, or display related items for purchase, such as brushes and tape. Additionally, consumer goods organizations can use this data to ensure that the paint the customer wants is on the shelf.

Retail Environment2

What is Microsoft doing to bring this to life?

Microsoft has made significant investment in developing technologies and solutions specifically to help retail and consumer goods organizations stay profitable and relevant. These solutions are now available for you to try at Microsoft AppSource. We are particularly excited to announce our recent partnership with AFS Technologies to develop a comprehensive retail execution solution that helps consumer goods organizations modernize their businesses without expanding infrastructure. Retail Execution is the first of many Finished Solutions, making it easy for BDMs to solve for their specific business problems, without the need to integrate disparate point solutions, and without the need to write complex code.

Retail Execution

The Retail Execution solution is designed to help Consumer Packed Goods (CPGs) with their most persistent pain points across the retail sales process. Inventory visibility challenges, inefficient fulfillment processes, and high storage costs can be mitigated through our integrated solution. This advanced level of integration gives retailers the agility and information they need to truly optimize product availability.

Retail Activity Optimization allows sales reps to use recent point-of-sale data to decide which locations to visit to maximize return. Our advanced analytics engine can even suggest which activities to conduct while on-site – significantly boosting efficiency in planning and executing complex in-store activities. Retail Execution empowers sales reps to monitor and adjust sales activities while providing deep visibility into field sales performance.

Planogram compliance checks are made easier than ever with a cloud-based digital image recognition engine. You also gain the ability to de-silo data collected from customer interactions both online and off to help build and optimize marketing campaigns. By combining sales performance data with marketing campaign results, you are able to uncover insights that drive informed decision-making at every level of your retail business.

Try it yourself

Want to learn more about Retail Execution? Try the preview solution at today or to learn more about how Microsoft is turning business process into business advantage for organizations everywhere click here.


Karen Garrette, Global Industry Director – CPG & Retail
Luke Shave, Sr. Industry Marketing Manager – CPG & Retail

Original author: Bre Neuman (Yesler)

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