Microsoft announces gen AI options at NRF

  • January 23, 2024
  • Steve Rogerson

Microsoft announced generative AI and data options and capabilities for retailers at this month’s NRF show in New York.

These span the retail shopper journey, from enabling personalised shopping experiences, empowering store associates and unlocking and unifying retail data to helping brands more effectively reach their audiences.

Through copilot templates on Azure OpenAI Service that let retailers build personalised shopping experiences and support store operations, the retail data options in Microsoft Fabric, copilot features in Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Insights, and Retail Media Creative Studio in the Microsoft Retail Media Platform, Microsoft Cloud for Retail now offers more options for retailers to choose from to infuse copilot experiences throughout the shopper journey.

Microsoft Cloud for Retail now offers a copilot template, in preview, that lets retailers build personalised shopping experiences. Using a retailer’s current systems and data, this prebuilt option can be embedded into existing digital experiences, such as a web site or app, making it easier for shoppers to find and purchase the products they want.

Shoppers can benefit from the convenience of online shopping with the experience offered by a personal shopper, just as they would if they were shopping in a physical store. The copilot template allows retailers to build personalised shopping that lets customers ask for and view products by expressing what they’re looking for through natural language.

Powered by GPT-4 through Azure OpenAI Service, the technology uses contextual awareness to provide the type of response shoppers would receive from a store associate. For example, a first-time camper shopping for a camping trip to Yosemite National Park in early March can visit a sporting goods retailer’s web site and state in the chat: “I’m going camping in Yosemite this March, and I have never camped before. Help me find the right gear.” Shoppers receive a response in natural language with recommendations for essentials. The copilot template for personalised shopping can also surface items to increase basket size and customer satisfaction.

“Generative AI can serve as a key differentiator for retailers, providing their customers with a unique and memorable experience that embodies their brand identity,” said Shelley Bransten, Microsoft corporate vice president. “The new Microsoft Cloud for Retail copilot template for personalised shopping on Azure OpenAI Service is just one of the ways we enable retailers to build copilot experiences. We are committed to democratising the concierge-like experience across the shopping journey through copilot templates that help retailers create more personalised experiences and reduce time to value.”

Microsoft is putting generative AI into the hands of store associates and managers, unlocking their potential and contributing to productivity, job satisfaction and, ultimately, customers’ shopping experiences. Microsoft Cloud for Retail now provides acopilot template, in preview, on Azure OpenAI Service, that helps retailers support store operations, giving store associates and managers access to insights and information in the flow of work. By accessing the technology on the retailer’s mobile devices, tablets or PCs, store associates and managers can use natural language to get answers to questions on store procedures, product catalogues, HR policies and benefits in an efficient and quick way using AI. They can also save time through voice-enabled task creation and assignments, as well as quickly access customer and product information to help them provide in-store customer service.

Applications built with the copilot template can also give stores a view into employees’ and customers’ most frequently asked questions, allowing them to gain insights that help them take meaningful actions, such as updating training, procedures or guidelines.

Microsoft Experience Centers (, with physical stores in New York, Sydney and London that offer shoppers the ability to experience Microsoft products and make retail purchases, will be one of the first retailers to implement the copilot template for store associates. The technology will give their store associates insights to enhance shoppers’ experiences as they browse products, see demos and learn about Microsoft technology.

Microsoft previewed retail data options in Microsoft Fabric, an end-to-end, unified analytics platform that brings together all the data and analytics tools organisations need to unlock the potential of their data and lay the foundation for AI.

Microsoft Fabric gives retailers a data model that lets them plan, architect and design data options. This generally available retail industry data model can be used for data governance, reporting, business intelligence and analytics.

A data connector to bring ecommerce data from Sitecore OrderCloud(preview) into Microsoft Fabric in real time provides a unified lens so retailers can access insights and tools to improve customer satisfaction and business operations at every touchpoint from storefront to fulfilment.

With the retail data options in Microsoft Fabric, organisations can accelerate implementation of retail-specific data models while unifying their data and transforming them into predictive insights that help enhance customer engagement and shopper experiences.

Microsoft announced copilot features in Dynamics 365 Customer Insights that will help marketers build end-to-end projects and campaigns. These features offer marketing teams an AI-first experience to kickstart projects by simply typing in their desired outcome in their own words or by uploading an existing creative brief. Copilot then responds by generating a centralised project board so marketers can manage and update their campaign workflows in one place and get AI-recommended content that can be easily changed, eliminating the need for siloed applications and saving time. Customers will also have access to Typeface and its enterprise-grade generative AI capabilities to help produce brand-authentic images across assets, supercharging personalised content for greater impact, all from within Dynamics 365 Customer Insights.

Additionally, Microsoft is introducing generative AI to theMicrosoft Retail Media platform powered by PromoteIQthrough the launch of Retail Media Creative Studio,an end-to-end banner ad creative option tailored for retail media, available in preview.