Microsoft has announced that its Cloud for Retail will be generally available starting Feb. 1, 2022. The public preview of the cloud has been available since March 31, 2021.

According to Microsoft, this cloud offering is designed to give retailers the flexibility to adopt the capabilities they need to address their most pressing business needs in these uncertain times, be it better knowing customers, empowering employees, building resilient supply chains, or reimagining retail.

Over the past two years, the rise of blended consumer shopping behaviours, persistent supply chain constraints, and a serious labour shortage has forced retailers to accelerate their digital capabilities to give consumers what they want before they’ve asked, align their supply chain by anticipating this demand, and empower the retail frontline workers.

“With the February 1 general availability of Microsoft Cloud for Retail, I’m optimistic we’re going to meet this challenge head-on with technology that will help retailers connect their customers, their people, and their data with a partner they can trust,” says Shelley Bransten, corporate vice-president, worldwide retail & consumer goods industry, Microsoft.

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The retail cloud offering connects experiences across the end-to-end shopper journey to deliver more relevant personalized experiences and operational excellence for sustained profitability. It starts with a modular framework so retailers can innovate as they go. This modular and deployable solution activates both end-to-end services like curbside pickup and standalone services like Intelligent Recommendations, according to Microsoft.

It starts by unifying disparate data sources across the end-to-end shopper journey, allowing retailers to maximize the value of their data, and resulting in a holistic view of the consumer. Once connected, data and artificial intelligence (AI) help retailers better understand and elevate the consumer shopping experience. In providing more relevant and streamlined experiences throughout the retail value chain, retailers can build a real-time sustainable supply chain and empower their frontline workforce, the company explains.

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