Power BI: Industry leader in data visualization

Microsoft Power BI is a business intelligence (BI) tool that streamlines data visualization for your business. It does this through an assortment of cloud-based services that manage and analyze data from a variety of sources within your business. The industry-leading AI helps non-data scientists prepare data, build machine learning models and elicit insights from this data. 


Benefits of Power BI 


  • Industry-leading AI can analyze business data, help spot trends and make educated predictions. 
  • It is a cloud-based app so intelligence capabilities and algorithms are updated regularly. 
  • The interface is user friendly thus making the data easy to interpret by non-technical people. 
  • The platform has standard integrations with many software applications and most of the Microsoft products such as Dynamics 365. 
  • Power BI can be accessed from anywhere and comes with mobile-optimized reports for people on the go. 



Why use Power BI for your business 


Data is the lifeblood of modern businesses, and we’re generating more of it than ever.” In order to make sense of all the data that is collected in this digital age of business, a cutting edge, industry-leading business intelligence software solution is needed.  


Power BI can transform your data to create useful insights that are easily understood by employees at every level of your organization, who will then be empowered to make confident decisions using up-to-the minute analytics.  


5 questions for ensuring mobile technology success in retail

Mobile technology use is soaring in retail, and for good reason. IHL Group found retailers that provide mobile sales tools for staff enjoy 77% higher sales growth than those who don’t, and those that deploy mobile POS achieve an impressive 92% higher sales. It’s rare to see such spectacular return on investment in technology, and it’s getting a lot of attention. In fact, 57% of retailers are planning major foundational investments in mobile POS over the next two years, according to RIS News’ 30th Annual Retail Technology Study.

But the IHL results come with a caveat: results reflect those retailers “deploying effectively.” The fact is, there is a right way to go about a mobile deployment to get excellent results. It requires carefully selecting cases that support larger goals, thoughtful selection of technology, a plan that includes not just deployment but after-rollout maintenance and support, and alignment with a partner that can offer the expertise, partner ecosystem and services that ensure success at every step.

To ensure mobile projects are on the right track, retailers should ask themselves the following five questions.

1. How can mobile devices support our customer engagement strategy?

Many retailers have been investing in stores to amp up customer experience and drive traffic and sales. Since the pandemic, mobile has become an event bigger part of that plan. But before selecting a mobile solution, retailers have to connect the dots between the customer experience they’re looking to create and the specific functions a mobile device will need to perform to make that a reality. If they want to deliver a more personalized in-store shopping experience with assisted selling, for example, their mobile solution must include not just the right device, but access to customer insights and in-store analytics to help customize the brand experience. The same is true of extending rewarding customer experiences beyond the store environment with clienteling. It’s important to consider both customer-facing use cases, like kiosks, and behind-the-scenes customer support functions, like click-and-collect picking and packing.

2. What capabilities do our mobile devices need to have to achieve our objectives?

If the associate and customer will share a screen to look at accessories or product options, for example, they’ll need a large screen and perhaps a swivel-mounted docking station. For mobile POS, they’ll need scanning capability, the ability to dip or swipe a card and perhaps access to a networked receipt printer. Some retailers maximize the productivity of their devices by accommodating more than one use case: line busting for busy times and replenishment at night, for example, or a kiosk that doubles as a POS terminal for the holiday season, and perhaps leveraging UVB clean technology for disinfection. Will devices be carried, docked or both? Important features to look for to support specific uses include scanning, availability of a sled for card reading and ruggedness to survive drops, dust and other environmental realities.

3. What form factors best suit our use cases?

Hand in hand with device functionality is device type. Wearables such are emerging as a more direct and sophisticated means of assigning store floor tasks, implementing automated social distancing alers, or communicating with team members, since the associate simply glances at the message and maintains a connection to the customer they’re with. Meanwhile, tablets have found their sweet spot for assisted selling, clienteling, kiosks, endless aisle and fixed or mobile hybrid POS. For example, one plus-size fashion retailer aims to fulfill the complete fashion needs of its shoppers, so the retailer chose tablets, each housed in a thin, lightweight case with a hand grip, so associates have complete mobility to assist shoppers anywhere, searching centralized inventory, showcasing additional styles and colors, and even completing the sale.

4. What is the most effective way to deploy and support mobile devices in our business?

Mobile devices must remain operational, secure and up-to-date to achieve retailer goals. Enterprise mobile management solutions help retailers maximize the value or their fleet of mobile devices. According to RSR Research’s IT Spending in Retail 2018, “retail “winners” are far more likely to be planning to increase spending on mobile device management over the next three years than other retailers — 60% to 26%, to be exact. They know managing devices intelligently is critical to getting results. Mobile devices need to be up and running at the point of transaction for a pleasant customer experience. It’s important to have the right day-two support structure in place to keep working devices in the hands of all associates to reduce disruptions.

5. What capabilities and expertise do we need from our technology partner to ensure our mobile devices are successful?
High-quality devices and the tools to manage them are foundational to a successful mobile project, but there is a third leg to the stool, and that’s the right technology partner. An experienced mobile partner works on retail mobile projects every day, amassing considerable depth of expertise in what works, and doesn’t work, in every use case. A great partner can offer deep domain expertise, training assistance and best practice insights, as well as access to an ecosystem of key partners like accessory manufacturers, in-store analytics service providers and deployment and support talent to ensure an effective and well-integrated solution.

Mobile is the future of technology in retail

The future of retail tech is mobile, thanks to these devices’ sleek designs, versatility and low cost. But succeeding with mobile is all about seeing past the sizzle and sweating the details. Mobile in retail delivers great results — if the solution supports overall goals, uses the right device with the right features, includes a plan for ongoing support and leverages all the insider knowledge, experience and partner relationships that come through a great tech partner.

Written by Peter Sciara for retailcustomerexperience.com on December 3rd, 2020.

Make your retail business more resilient with eCommerce & the Cloud

When the residents of Paris were told to stay at home to prevent the spread of coronavirus, French supermarket Carrefour launched a new eCommerce service to help customers get their hands on essential products. On the Carrefour Essentials mini website, customers can order baskets of basic foodstuffs for a maximum of €5 per person per day, and have it delivered to their door. Dietary requirements are catered for by choosing from three main food groups: vegetarian (a selection of vegetables and pulses, including lentils and bulgur wheat etc.), land (cassoulet, sausages, etc.) and sea (tuna, sardines, etc.). These baskets can be supplemented with special kits for babies, pets and household maintenance, all delivered on a weekly basis.

The coming of age of online retail

While eCommerce and cloud technologies are not new, Covid-19 has forced years of digital commerce transformation into just a few months for certain retailers. Big brands have had to quickly overhaul their eCommerce experiences, and some smaller retailers have launched online buying for the very first time. Consumers are adapting fast, too.

In Italy and Spain, where eCommerce usage rates have been some of the lowest in Europe – at 4% and 5% of total retail revenues respectively, according to the Centre for Retail Research – life in quarantine is changing consumer behaviors.

Carrefour reported that online customers have doubled in Italy and sales through a partnership with logistics company Glovo, which allow for speed delivery (30 minutes or less) for select items in some Italian cities, have skyrocketed. In Spain, Cross-Border Magazine reported that online sales grew by 55% in March.

It’s not just food retail that’s performing well online. Luxury department store Harrods overhauled its eCommerce site just one month before it had to close its shop doors. They confirmed that the webstore has been trading well above expectations since launch. Inditex, the parent company of fashion brands including Zara, Massimo Dutti and Pull & Bear, reported a 50% rise in online sales in the first quarter of 2020 and a 95% increase in April alone.

Staying operational with the cloud

During the Covid-19 lockdowns, cloud technologies also proved critical to guaranteeing business continuity. In the past, a crisis of this magnitude would have brought business processes and productivity to a grinding halt. Thanks to cloud technology, many workers are now able to carry out their roles at home, allowing retailers to continue operating almost seamlessly throughout weeks and months of utter disruption.

Employees can attend business meetings online through tools such as Microsoft Teams. They can securely connect to the business network through their home broadband on their own device, and access the business data and information they need. And customer service departments and contact centers have switched seamlessly to remote working.

The ability to scale with the cloud is particularly important with eCommerce. Businesses that had already shifted to a cloud strategy before Covid-19 have been able to react and scale up much faster than the competition to cope with unprecedented demand. And while some companies have had to temporarily shut down their websites because of the sheer volume of customers accessing online shopping, those on the cloud have managed to stay robust, and operational.

“We’ve been told by manufacturers, such as Mars and Nestlé, that we’ve been able to scale up more swiftly than most of our competitors and this has been because of cloud infrastructure,” said Adam Taylor, co-founder and chief executive of PetShop.co.uk, to Raconteur. “We’ve gone from packing and shipping 1,000 orders a day to 4,000 orders a day. We were able to scale up to meet this demand within the space of two days.”

Building for the future

Even as physical stores re-open, eCommerce and cloud technologies will continue to play an important role in retailers’ long-term strategies.

UK research company Kantar found that new consumer habits will continue well beyond the era of social distancing. In a global survey, it found that around a third of households had increased or significantly increased their eCommerce spend in the pandemic period. The same percentage of respondents believe their future online purchases will increase. As consumer comfort with online shopping continues to grow, retailers will be expected to continue stepping up their digital experiences and make their technology more intuitive and ubiquitous. To this end, Inditex plans to accelerate and broaden its forward-looking digital transformation strategy, investing €1 billion in bolstering its online business and a further €1.7 billion in upgrading the integrated store platform.

There were compelling business cases for taking advantage of cloud computing under normal trading conditions, but the coronavirus pandemic has certainly highlighted its benefits to even the most skeptical of retail business owners. Cloud deployments have proven critical in enabling businesses to continue operating and quickly adapt their workloads and processes, as well as support remote workforces.

The Coca-Cola Company is currently shifting its business operations to Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform to modernize the way its employees work and engage with customers. Using cloud-based technology, the company plans to enable a 360-degree view of its business, rollout a single hub for employees to connect and collaborate, as well as attend large-scale virtual meetings. The company will also use AI-driven insights and real-time dashboards in its call center operations to better serve customers.

“This partnership with Microsoft allows us to really step change our employee experience through replacing previously disparate and fragmented systems,” said Barry Simpson, senior vice president and chief information and integrated services officer of The Coca-Cola Company. “These platforms allow us to deliver relevant, personalized experiences as we network our organization.”

How to make cloud and eCommerce work for your business

This crisis could be the opportunity to change your business for the better, permanently. With this in mind, here are three steps every retailer can take to better serve their customers and make their business more resilient:

1. Bridge the online-offline gap

Until recently, we wouldn’t even think of buying certain items online without seeing them and trying them out first. Take spectacles, a mattress, or even a cake. The average consumer would want to experience these products in person before committing to a purchase. But that no longer needs to be the case as retailers find new ways to bring the shopping experience into consumers’ homes.

Retailers who employ unified commerce platforms, which unite the different channels within a single software solution and database, are better equipped to launch digital experiences with functionality that bridges online and offline, such as click and collect. A unified commerce technology platform also enables you to keep tabs on sales, stock and customer preferences in real time, no matter the sales channel.

2. Be prepared to scale

Many retailers have seen their online sales skyrocket, but some were unable to keep up with demand as they struggled to handle the increase in traffic and sales. How has your online store coped? Would it be able to handle a sudden boost in traffic, or would it crash and leave your customers disappointed?

Today, retailers need to be prepared for unpredictable spikes in online business, at any time – not just on Black Friday and Christmas Eve. An effective strategy involves moving to a modern, flexible, cloud-based commerce platform that can quickly shrink or expand as needed, and handle peaks in traffic with ease.

3. Adapt to consumers’ changing needs

When you are using cloud-based technology, you can also take advantage of all the innovation happening in the cloud. Especially during times of change, this agility can enable you to not only see, but also respond to consumers’ desires. Demand forecasting and modeling tools can help you predict and prepare for significant consumer behavior changes changing your product mix, merchandising, pricing strategies and even messaging. Data analytics and machine learning tools can help you reduce waste and overhead. AI can also help create better customer experiences with tools such as personalized recommendations, and automate customer support with virtual agents who can answer frequently asked questions and direct consumers’ inquiries 24/7.

The coronavirus crisis will pass, but consumer shopping habits may have changed irrevocably. To stay in business, retailers must continue to do what they have always done, which is to listen to their customers’ demands and deliver the products, services and experiences they need. Today, digital transformation can help you to respond effectively – allowing you to shift to online, implement cloud technologies that improve scalability and agility, and give you the insights you need to offer your customers exactly what they want at exactly the right moment in time.

Written by LS Retail | 25 June 2020

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