Retail organizations face an urgent need to accelerate digital transformation efforts in response to economic insecurity, persistent inflation, and growing consumer price sensitivity. Consumer product goods manufacturers (CPGs) and physical and online retail stores need to increase investments in strategic real-time pricing, supply chain resiliency, and customer experience management to keep pace with the competition. With cloud adoption, retailers have been successful and with emerging artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities on cloud, they can break the barriers.
“Cloud adoption was the need, and AI on cloud is imperative today,” says Nilendu Pattanaik, Global Head Business Applications Practice, Microsoft Business Unit, at Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). “Having hundreds of employees managing on-premises infrastructure is not cost-effective. Cloud adoption normalizes legacy infrastructures, standardizes applications, and reduces redundancies, and AI infuses new possibilities for experience and efficiency.”
The right cloud platform helps businesses achieve their digital transformation goals. “Our key solutions for retail industries are built on Microsoft Cloud, which combine best-in-class retail and consumer products domain across multiple types of businesses, and process capabilities built by TCS with AI-enabled solutions that leverage Microsoft technologies,” Nilendu says.
A cloud-first approach to modernization supported by AI should ensure that technology investments are in lockstep with the retailer’s business model and objectives. IT leaders are prioritizing models that are more agile, efficient, and intelligent, allowing them to respond to market changes quickly. The right model facilitates the adoption of new technologies on cloud, provides a framework for collaboration between teams seamlessly, and supports continuous refinements in an agile manner.
For all types of retail outlets, be it a website, a mobile app, or a physical store, it is vital to adopt strategies that meet shoppers’ heightened expectations. Customer loyalty and retention depend on it, and the competition is setting a high bar, with retail leaders incorporating AI as well as augmented reality technologies to create hyper-personalized customer experiences.
These types of technologies require IT architecture and infrastructure that enable increased flexibility and scalability. A more engaging customer experience may be achieved through improving navigation in store-branded mobile app, for example, or by offering an AI-driven feature to help customers determine correct sizing for apparel.
Small changes can have a big impact on performance. “Even a small reduction in the time it takes to deliver a cup of coffee could have a significant impact on employee productivity and the overall customer experience,” says Nilendu. “Spatial analytics and competitive analysis have started to play critical roles in driving differentiated experience, dynamic pricing strategy, store layouts and improved personalized buying experiences.”
Supply chain resiliency
Maintaining a competitive position in the retail world involves tremendous pressure to manage costs more effectively. Supply chain resiliency can help reduce disruptions, streamline inventory management, and improve operational efficiency. With AI and Microsoft Cloud, the right product at the right time can be supplied, stocked, sold, and served with a superior impact.
“An AI-enabled, resilient and digital supply chain is one of the key focus areas for TCS to take to the market,” Nilendu says. “Similarly, this is one of the key platforms from Microsoft Dynamics 365 for the retail industry, and with Microsoft Dynamics 365 Copilot in both ERP and CRM, the solutions have now got wings of intelligence for smart selling and hyper-personalized experience. Hence, we have created a smart and resilient supply chain framework on Microsoft Cloud for Retail integrated with Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Microsoft Dynamics Point of Sales, powered with Microsoft Power Platform and Microsoft Azure OpenAI, to help retailers transform across the entire value chain.”
As retailers transform, privacy and security of consumer data must remain the top priority. “Security and compliance are paramount for retail businesses because they’re dealing with so much personally identifiable information (PII) and need to be competitively ahead while being compliant,” says Nilendu. “It is extremely important to manage that data privacy at the highest security level. Normalizing your data infrastructure on Microsoft Cloud allows you to manage security and compliance across multiple geographies more effectively through one major security framework.”
Retailers are under pressure to transform into more responsive and resilient organizations to meet broader competition and rapidly changing customer expectations. A cloud-first approach supported by next-generation technologies powered with AI can help transform operations, optimize inventory, store operation, market outreach and supply chain management, and enhance customer experiences to deliver sustainable growth while staying compliant, maintaining security, and preventing fraud.
Learn how to master your cloud transformation journey with TCS and Microsoft Cloud.
Cloud Computing, Digital Transformation, Retail Industry