New service aims to connect experiences across the end-to-end shopper journey with integrated and intelligent capabilities.

This week, Microsoft introduced the private preview of “Cloud for Retail”. The retail-specific cloud service will centre around driving accelerated time to value. The service will harness the power of Microsoft Azure, Microsoft Power Platform, Microsoft 365, Microsoft Dynamics 365, and Microsoft Advertising.

Shelley Bransten, Corporate Vice President, WW Retail and Consumer Goods Industry announced the preview in a blog post this week. Bransten observes that “customer loyalty is won or lost in the micro-moments of ensuring the retailer has that exact item when that empowered consumer is looking for it.”

She notes that Microsoft Azure is delivering 200 million purchase forecasts a day to Walgreens. This, she says, ensures the right items are in stock at the right time. Such a tech advantage foreshadows future growth, according to Bransten.

“I’m optimistic about the future of retail in 2021 and beyond. In fact, we are so deeply committed to the retail opportunity and the role technology can play that we are introducing the private preview of Microsoft Cloud for Retail.” 

“By bringing together disparate data sources across the retail value chain, we will enable retailers to realise the true value of their data by enriching core business processes and turning data into actionable insights,” she wrote.

“Our rich partner ecosystem will extend the value of the platform with retail-specific solutions to address the industry’s most urgent challenges, and future-proofing retail organisations to proactively be ready for what’s next.”

Delivering flexibility and resiliency during difficult times

The company said that it is designing Microsoft Cloud for Retail to give people added flexibility. This will in turn allow them to adopt the capabilities they need to address their most pressing business needs.

“If 2020 taught us anything, it was that no business is resilient to everything,” Bransen observed. “But those that had laid their digital tracks early were better positioned to recover, and in some cases, even speed ahead.”

In fact, one retail expert said that we had “witnessed a 10-year evolutionary leap toward digital” in retailing, she noted. Microsoft Cloud for Retail apparently seeks to monetize that leap.