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Delivering the connected shopping experience: How Microsoft and Avanade are reimagining retail

Posted on January 18, 2022

Partner General Manager, Microsoft Azure IoT

This blog post has been co-authored by Charlie Lagervik, Principal Program Manager.

Consumers today demand flexibility and convenience in how they purchase everything from groceries to home goods. In addition to shopping online, they are increasingly using mobile devices and other digital services to make in-store shopping more efficient and convenient. In response, retailers are striving to reimagine their physical store footprints to drive new and improved shopping experiences.

Leading retailers are rapidly developing new solutions to deliver a retail experience that drives loyalty, both online and in stores.

Avanade Intelligent Store image shows customer touchpoints that can be enhanced by data-driven experiences.

Common challenges to implementing successful solutions include long deployment times for custom applications, integration of disparate point solutions, and scaling new solutions across physical stores in a timely manner.

Optimizing in-store experiences with Avanade Intelligent Store

We recently collaborated with Avanade to create a modular solution called Avanade Intelligent Store that helps retailers overcome these hurdles. Avanade specializes in providing digital and cloud services, business solutions, and design-led experiences using Microsoft technologies. This solution, built on Microsoft Azure, integrates physical and digital in-store use cases and allows retailers to optimize the customer experience across channels.

Workflow shows how omni-channel optimization can help retailers understand preferences, better serve customers, and craft offers based on needs.

Retailers can select from pre-defined Azure offerings, including out-of-stock detection, digital signage, and virtual queue management. Avanade’s Intelligent Store enables repeatable, scalable in-store experiences delivered in a modular way and also offers a managed services option. With this model, retailers can switch services on or off as their needs fluctuate over time across different store locations.

The heart of the Avanade solution is a digital twin—a digital representation of a physical store environment, updated in real-time—that enables up-to-date visibility, seamless automation, and the use of data to enhance shopper experiences throughout the buying journey. As a result, retailers can meet multiple omnichannel use cases, including traditional shopping, online shopping and delivery, or online shopping and curbside pickup.

Using Azure for omni-channel optimization helps retailers deliver compelling brand experiences across devices and channels, understand preferences more deeply, and craft sales offers based on needs. Data across all physical and virtual apps and channels becomes an input for analytics, with services such as Azure Synapse Analytics and managed databases that help you eliminate data silos to accelerate insights. You can use this data to modernize apps and web experiences, bringing the power of AI to build advertisements that resonate with customers. You can also optimize in-store experiences with a centralized management platform, and deploy web applications with high availability and auto-scaling, without the need to manage physical infrastructure.

Swedish grocery store ICA-Roslagstull is using Avanade Intelligent Store to collect shopping data from sensors on cameras and cooler and freezer compressors. That data, collected on Azure, is then sent in real-time to store employees’ smartwatches or other mobile devices.

Armed with this information, store workers can immediately see if customers need assistance or if shelves need stocking. This presents a better overall experience by shortening wait times and ensuring accurate inventory, while also encouraging shoppers to spend more time in the store and engage with the brand both digitally and physically.

Driving a personalized, connected shopping experience

By implementing Intelligent Store solutions, retailers can create a connected and curated experience for customers, offering personalization and product recommendations while gaining real-time inventory insights and inventory optimization. With these capabilities, retail companies can differentiate the shopping experience, bring their brand to life, and increase efficiency and profitability.

To learn more about the Avanade Intelligent Store, browse Azure Marketplace solutions or contact the team at intelligentstore@avanade.com. To learn more about cloud adoption, check out the Azure for retail page.