Reimagining Retail Series: Microsoft Enabling Retail Innovation

Microsoft’s Retail Industry Lead, Dave Rodgerson sat down with Wavefront’s VP Marketing & Communications, Michelle Sklar to learn more about what is really transpiring at the intersection of retail and IoT.   

What are Microsoft’s key pillars for enabling retail innovations? 

Microsoft has an approach to digital transformation that is based on four pillars:  

  1. Engaging your customers, by giving them new tools like shopping bots for example. 
  2. Empowering your associates, by making processes easier to use and providing mobile access on any device.  
  3. Optimizing your operations, such as creating automated, cloud based processes. 
  4. Transforming your products, by focusing on customer needs and helping companies, rather than not products looking for a problem to solve. 

What are some of the technology trends you are being exposed to?   

Digital shopping assistants like bots that are available through your smart phone are just one. Another business disruption that’s facing the grocery industry are “meal kits”. These include exact components of a meal that are shipped right to your door. Companies like Blue Apron, Purple Carrot and Home Chef are just a few examples of this service.   

What are some of the retail problems you are seeing come your way, regarding consumer experience, supply/chain management or new products?  

As more retailers try to embrace Omni channel they’re still working through the process of reverse logistics. That is, handling returns purchased through one channel and returning them through another. It’s also a time when retailers are still trying to develop a 360-degree view of the customer across all their interactions.   

iot grocery

What should retailers be considering with digital transformation? 

Cloud technologies are making it so much easier for companies to test, develop and implement new solutions and processes. It’s also a great way to spin up resources when required and dial them back when things slow down. This flexibility is one of the greatest advantages when you are undergoing a digital transformation. Speed and flexibility are the key. 

Preparedness? Consumer readiness? Bottom line? What drives decision-making? 

It’s always hard to prepare for the unexpected. That’s why being nimble is so critical. Surprises are going to come about and they’re not always pleasant. Being able to see these things as early as possible and react accordingly is the secret. Companies that have huge capital investments in data centres are going to be playing catch up with those who are on the cloud where assets can be deployed quicker and computing power can be applied more easily. 

Can you share an approach you use when working with a retailer to identify an opportunity to increase their digital capacity and performance? 

The real challenge facing retailers is coming from those with new business models that aren’t encumbered with years of legacy systems and processes. That being said, any opportunity to blur the line between the physical and digital experience will always bring you closer to the place where you can meet the needs of your customer how, where and when they want.   


Stay Connected! Our next Reimaging Retail event is in January 2018 in Vancouver, BC. Check Wavefront’s events calendar for the most up to date information.

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