With the holidays over, the retail industry’s busiest period has only just ended. But the National Retail Federation 2019 Big Show in New York City this week promises to reinvigorate retailers with spirited conversation and new industry breakthroughs. I’m onsite at the conference, along with some of Microsoft’s most innovative partners, welcoming retailers from around the world who come to NRF to gather ideas, get inspired, and learn about the latest technologies that will help them transform their businesses.

We work closely with partners and customers like Kroger, Walmart, and Gap Inc. to help transform their businesses and propel the next frontier of intelligent retail. I’m particularly excited about the intelligent retail solutions that will be showcased on the EXPO Floor and in the Microsoft booth this year. Microsoft partners are doing amazing work with retailers of all types and sizes – delivering solutions that help retailers know their customers, empower their people, deliver intelligent supply chain, and reinvent retail. Together, we’re breaking down the walls between channels, bringing web, mobile, social, and in-store experiences together to create engaging customer experiences that drive sales.

Here are just a few of the innovations we’ll be highlighting with our partners and customers at NRF 2019: 

 

TokyWoky

TokyWoky has a unique platform that uses Azure AI, Power BI and real-time technologies to facilitate community-sourced advice that customers can trust and relate to. TokyWoky is helping retailers provide their customers with human, personalized experiences through 24/7 chat technology that can answer 4 to 6 times more customer inquiries than regular chat. Enabling peer-to-peer conversations produces continuous user-generated content across the retailer’s website, builds trust and conversion and addresses hold-ups in real-time. At NRF TokyWoky will be showcasing their Community Chat solution for craft retailer Michaels, which engages more than 10,000 Michaels customers each month.

 

LiveTiles

Utilizing the power of Microsoft SharePoint and Microsoft Azure, software company LiveTiles has created a better way to share company news and resources with a fully customizable digital communications hub that unites disparate applications and systems into a secure portal that can be accessed by hundreds of users worldwide. LiveTiles will be demonstrating their “Hill Net” Intelligent Workplace Communication Hub for global jewelry brand Michael Hill and showcasing how their bot “Ruby” has transformed the retailer’s digital workplace through artificial intelligence (AI) technology. Built using LiveTiles Bots, a no-code bot builder powered by the Microsoft Azure Bot Framework and Azure Cognitive Services, LiveTiles Bots remove the time, cost and risks normally associated with building and implementing AI solutions. 

 

Fellow Robots

Fellow Robots provides industry-leading Microsoft Azure-based AI inventory solutions, data analytics and business intelligence suites for supermarkets, big box retailers, drug stores, and other retail chains. To help retailers make better use of their data, Fellow’s solutions deliver actionable information to store associates, empowering them to work more efficiently and delight customers. They’ll be sharing the results of their collaboration with BevMo! and other leading retailers in applying Azure Machine Learning to the analysis of data collected by their in-store robots. They’ll also demo new smartphone-delivered customer service functionality, based on machine learning and Power BI, that helps store associates quickly locate items, select alternatives for out-of-stock items, and identify efficient placement and fulfillment of buy online/pick up in store orders (BOPIS). 

 

Episerver

Episerver will be showcasing the Episerver Digital Experience Cloud which uses Azure Cognitive Services and AI to personalize shopping experiences based on the customer, their interests, why they interact with a brand, when they’re ready to buy and how they best like to shop, be it online or in-store. It injects AI predictions into store experiences – such as digital displays, shoppable mirrors and associate devices – and uses unified identity management to capture and sync consumer profiles and behavior on the web and in-store. According to Forrester Research, this level of knowing the customer and driving personalization has produced a 70 percent incremental revenue uplift for retailers, driving improved KPIs for checkouts, click-throughs and commerce. By combining Microsoft and Episerver Commerce, retail customers can quickly launch a unified commerce solution and deliver great experiences across all customer touchpoints.

 

PCMS

Retail IT software and services provider PCMS is partnering with Microsoft to extend its cloud offering and provide retailers with the high-availability Azure cloud infrastructure they need to drive powerful, engaged commerce capabilities, create seamless shopping experiences and gain a competitive market edge as the first point of sale in the cloud. With complementary technology from Microsoft and PCMS – including Microsoft’s Azure cloud combined with PCMS VISION Commerce Suite – retailers can design, control and revolutionize customer experiences across any vertical, geography or channel. This allows retailers to unlock the power of their commerce solution, bringing store, web, mobile and social together, while ensuring their customers can enjoy an always-available, consistent, and easy shopping experience.

 

DXC Technology

DXC Technology is partnering with Goodwill of Central and Northern Arizona to implement Microsoft Dynamics 365 as its retail management and Point of Sale (POS) solution. DXC’s Dynamics-based custom solution enables Goodwill to gain better insight into what’s coming in the door from donations so that they can ensure the right mix of products are on shelves in order to generate the biggest profit. This is especially important for Goodwill, whose profits directly fund its mission – to strengthen communities, eliminate barriers to opportunity and help people in need reach their full potential through learning and the power of work.

 

To learn more about how partners are enabling intelligent technology in retail join the conversation at the Microsoft Partner Community here.