The Record - Issue 15: Winter 2019

95 However, companies must do far more than simply reimagine how they use their physical stores if they want to reinvent the retail expe- rience. They must also go back to basics and rethink every aspect of the way they operate. “Retailers have been making incremental changes to optimise their operations, but this won’t truly reinvent retail in a way that delivers the unique, personalised and on-demand experiences modern consumers expect,” says Vic Miles, retail business leader at Microsoft. “Now, they have to take bigger (but still measured) risks to reima- gine everything from the way they curate product assortments, to how they manage inventory, order fulfilment, POS, supply chains, content marketing, customer interactions and much more.” As a first step, retailers must determine what each of their individual customers desires from their shopping experience. To do this, they can use internet of things sensors and other intelli- gent solutions to capture relevant data at every customer touchpoint – in both physical and dig- ital channels – and analyse it with artificial intel- ligence (AI) and machine learning to turn it into actionable insights. “AI is probably the single biggest technology that will help retailers to truly reinvent retail by allowing them to hyper-personalise the expe- rience for every customer,” says Miles. “Using AI, brands can learn how frequently a specific person visits the online and physical stores, what time of day they typically shop, which types of products they browse and purchase, their pre- ferred payment and delivery methods and much more. This allows them to create a 360-degree overview of each customer and pinpoint that elusive ‘sweet spot’ for engaging with them. Plus, they can pool together insights about their different customer segments to work out what types of new services and experiences they should implement as part of their retail offering.” Importantly, retailers must find ways to con- nect the data they capture across all their differ- ent channels if they want to improve elements like their product range, supply chain, pricing and content marketing. “The lovely checkout lady at my local grocery store always asks me if I found what I was look- ing for, but it doesn’t matter what answer I give Pioneering retailers like Nordstrom are finding new ways to attract and retain their customers  R E TA I L & HOS P I TA L I T Y