Spark illustration

Microsoft for Startups – 6 key NRF takeaways

Emily TargettGrowth Marketing Manager24 Jan 2023

Uncrowd is back in London after taking part in the National Retail Federation’s Big Show last week. A standout presentation at NRF this year was delivered by Microsoft for Startups on the future for retail in 2023, specifically focusing on the areas where innovation will be the hottest.

We’ve summarised this entire presentation into 6 key points below and added our thoughts.

6 Key Takeaways

1. Modernisation – retailers plan heavy investment

Retailers plan heavy investment in modernisation despite the recession - from market intelligence firm IDC.

Uncrowd Thoughts

For retailers to survive a recession they need to look outward to the market, capturing customer spend that still exists by stealing it from competitors. Customer analytics has a challenge - to show retailers which investment areas - delivery speed, personalisation, curation etc - positively impact customer choice.

2. Automation – a key focus for commerce

Retailers are looking at how and where automation can be inserted into their business. This includes automation of logistics processes, and automation on the customer journey.

Uncrowd Thoughts

Automation is seductive, but retailers shouldn’t lose sight of the customer. A key question when considering automation solutions on the customer journey is – how does it impact customer experience?

For example, does implementing a customer service chatbot impact customer retention? Anything you ask a customer to do that they don’t normally do adds friction to their experience, and that must be outweighed by reward to avoid losing customers to competitors. Retailers need analytics data on how automations like this affect CX friction and reward.

3. Customer satisfaction - priority for 2023

Along with operational efficiency and sustainability, customer satisfaction is a major priority for retailers right now.

Uncrowd Thoughts

Retailers need context to know what customer satisfaction scores are really telling them. This is crucial in a recession, when satisfaction scores can stay healthy while revenues fall.

Customer satisfaction metrics don’t deliver granularity on where to direct investment. For example, you might see high satisfaction scores at parts of the customer journey where you don’t actively annoy anyone. But these may also be the spots where there is the greatest potential for transformative investment.

4. Personalisation – a focus for retailers

75% of customers say they are disappointed at retailer's efforts to personalise.

Uncrowd Thoughts

We’re always wary of stats like this. Customers might say they want more personalisation when you ask them, but what impact does personalisation actually have on customer behaviour?

Does adding personalisation to the CX journey influence more customers to choose you more of the time? It may, or it may not – your analytics needs to give you granular data on the impact of personalisation on sales.

5. In-store investment

60% of retailers are investing in stores (IDC), but digital is also expected to grow.

Uncrowd Thoughts

Retailers are recognising the importance of the physical store to their brand and customer experience, even as digital continues to grow. Customer Analytics must keep up by delivering insight across platforms, wherever customers are.

6. The impact of EX on CX

EX – Employment Experience (how staff are treated by a business) has a huge impact on CX – Customer Experience. Stressed, underpaid or under-trained staff don’t deliver good customer experiences.

Uncrowd Thoughts

This is particularly relevant to customer analytics, where traditional metrics like NPS and CSAT are too often linked to staff performance bonuses, creating a workplace atmosphere focused on increasing a score rather than delivering great CX.

The Microsoft for Startups programme has a special place in Uncrowd hearts since we were Microsoft Global Startup Partner of the Year in 2020! We hope you found this summary insightful.

Uncrowd is on a mission to provide trustworthy data, clearly showing how and where companies are outperforming you - across your competitor set.