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Top takeaways and Microsoft activity from EuroShop 2017

By Xenia Giese, Retail & Consumer Goods Industry Solution Executive, Microsoft on March 16, 2017

Filed under Retail & Consumer Goods

Microsoft at EuroShop

(Photo: Messe Duesseldorf / ctillmann)

Our extended retail team and I spent five days in Dusseldorf, Germany at EuroShop 2017, the world’s largest trade fair for everything in and around retail. With 18 halls, 127,000 m² of exhibition space, 2,368 exhibitors, and 113,000 international visitors from 138 countries, it’s hard to describe its magnitude. It’s truly something you have to experience for yourself, at least once!

For me, EuroShop is always an inspirational experience, and this year more so than ever. Today, technology has evolved to a point where the time is right for retailers to embrace digital transformation—re-imagining their customer experiences and business processes from the ground up to stay relevant and competitive.

Walking the halls at this year’s event—from Visual Merchandizing to Lighting to Retail Technology—you could literally feel the power of this transformation in action. As the pulse of where the industry is heading, there were a few trends that stood out for me.

Trending at EuroShop

  • The Internet of Things (IoT), advanced analytics and the cloud were the top technologies that stood out at this year’s show. While there are always cool new things that grab attention, we saw the industry focusing less on the buzzwords and more on solutions that were a priority for them: becoming more customer-centric and driving better operational efficiency.
  • Technology applications were focused on the practical and the bottom line. Retailers were looking for practical conversations on how to best put these technology advancements to use for gains in operational efficiencies and productivity, and what is required to drive innovation. This includes looking at their current infrastructure investments and using IoT to retrofit and extend their value.
  • Store innovation is on the rise. I always find the store design and, in comparison, retail technology halls of EuroShop to be strong indicators of where the industry is headed. And a big focus for these real-world scenarios was the retail store itself, connecting all the traditional infrastructure to the cloud. We saw four key areas of interest where technology innovations have the biggest potential to transform in-store operations and the shopping experience: shelving, shopping carts, lighting, and refrigeration units.

Microsoft at EuroShop

Microsoft’s mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. That commitment guides both our product innovation and our unique approach to helping retailers and brands along their transformation journey. In our Microsoft booth at EuroShop we showcased how today’s intelligent solutions and the cloud can ultimately change the way they engage with customers, empower employees, optimize operations, and transform their products and services to create better customer outcomes.

Showcases that generated the most interest were almost all based on Internet of Things technology combining Machine Learning algorithms and advanced analytics.

Empowering Employees:

  • Store and warehouse workers are a large percentage of the retail workforce and are sometimes the ones not best informed. Microsoft StaffHub is based on Office 365 and offers simple, customized features for retail employees with digital tools for scheduling, communications, learning and productivity.

Engaging Customers:

  • The virtual promoter or interactive shopping window offers an interactive advertising channel for brands and retailers. It provides new opportunities to engage with customers and offers a personalized shopping experience at the point-of-sale. A life-size avatar entertains, advises, excites and interacts with customers via gesture recognition and analytics measure interaction and dwell time. Ameria’s Virtual Promoter solution is based on Microsoft Azure and Microsoft Kinect sensor.
  • Instore Solutions Interactive Media Kiosk showcased how different interactive store media engage customers while at the same time measuring interaction type, age group and gender by using Microsoft Cognitive Services.

Optimizing Operations:

  • Loss by outages of cooling units is still a frequent challenge in grocery retail. Monitoring cooling units – even old models – using affordable sensors and predictive analytics changes the game. By measuring the unit’s power intake and applying Machine Learning algorithms, Robotron’s Cooling Monitoring Solution predicts outages and alerts store employees beforehand. In contrast to sensor-intense monitoring of complete shelves and stores, these smart store components utilize low cost sensors and the Microsoft Azure IoT Suite to provide scalable smart retail solutions.
  • Philips Lighting has developed an indoor positioning system that differentiates by delivering highly accurate (30cm) positioning information, including orientation. This system can be used by retailers to remove friction from the shopper journey and increase staff efficiency. The data generated by Philips’ Indoor Positioning System can be used for valuable insights through data analytics based on the Microsoft Azure IoT Suite and visualized in Power BI.
  • The backbone of all operations processes are intelligent business applications, which are part of Microsoft Dynamics 365. There are apps for Sales, Customer Service, Operations, Financials, Field Service, Project Service Automation, and Marketing.

Transforming Services:

  • As the only non-humanoid and non-customer focused robot we saw at EuroShop, the Shelfie Robot surveys the store. It detects out-of-stock items and planogram compliance and the Shelfie Index is used to measure each store’s merchandizing compliance. The Shelfie solution offers a robot, a drone, and a handheld app; and is based on the Azure IoT Suite and Microsoft Cognitive Services such as the Image Recognition API.
  • Fast Forward Imaging’s Fotomate (FFWI) produces highly automated, 360-degree images with Azure-based distribution. Not only are FFWI’s images perfect for any traditional channel of commerce, they are also transparently cropped and thus ideal for a wide range of applications in Virtual Reality. Together with technical partners from a range of different backgrounds, FFWI also develops market-ready Virtual Commerce solutions to cater for the next generation of shopping.
  • Microsoft HoloLens as the first self-contained, holographic computer, enables you to engage with digital content and interact with holograms in the world around you. In our EuroShop booth, we demonstrated how HoloLens can provide a next-generation shopping channel or means to optimize operations.

If you missed Microsoft and our partners at the show, you can learn more about our solutions here (English or German.)

I’d also love to hear your thoughts from this year’s event! What stood out for you? Please share your comments with me on LinkedIn. We look forward to seeing you at EuroCIS 2018 or EuroShop 2020!

LinkedIn: Xenia Giese

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