back to article Microsoft: Dynamics 365 to hook up online, physical retail... 'cos we love tracking so much we want it offline too

Microsoft has new applications for Dynamics 365 that retailers will be pleased to note use data and AI to assist "personalisation" and optimisation across multiple retailing channels, including online and in-store. The company also claims to be making virtual agents, or bots, easier to author and with behaviour that is more …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "alert staff of long queues at checkouts"

    Because without a cloudy server, there is no way some mere human could possibly be charged of supervising the floor and noticing such problems. Funny that, when I got to a supermarket and arrive at checkout with long queues and half the checkout lanes closed down, pretty soon somebody shows up to open a lane. I'm pretty sure that they don't have no Microsoft Cloud Supervisor available.

    I wonder how supermarket chains have managed for the past century.

    1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

      Re: "alert staff of long queues at checkouts"

      @Pascal: Shouting "Ring the bell, mate" seems to work OK at my local CoOp. Will I have to have a Microsoft 365 account to shout it in future?

    2. hplasm Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: "alert staff of long queues at checkouts"

      It must work - when did you ever see long queue at a checkout in a Microsoft store?

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: "alert staff of long queues at checkouts"

        "It must work - when did you ever see long queue at a checkout in a Microsoft store?"

        good one!

    3. LDS Silver badge

      Re: "alert staff of long queues at checkouts"

      Since most supermarkets here had to re-schedule the same workforce on seven days openings instead of six, and longer opening hours, the chance of long queues increased. And unless they are ready to call cashiers from home and paying them overtime, I can't see how AI could solve the problem...

      Hiring more is probably out of the question, of course.

      1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

        Re: "alert staff of long queues at checkouts"

        @LDS - but if shoppers also spread their shopping out over 7 days instead of 6 wouldn't the length of the queues stay about the same?

    4. el_oscuro

      Re: "alert staff of long queues at checkouts"

      On the other side of the pond, our local K-Mart had a big sign up: "If there are more then 4 people in any line, we will open up more registers"

      Of course this was with 2 registers open and 20 people in line.

      Management quickly fixed that. They took down the sign.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: "alert staff of long queues at checkouts"

        well, it's hard to get qualified people working at minimum wage. it used to be easier, when min wage was LOWER, because you could hire high school students and AFFORD TO TAKE A RISK. Nowadays, a bad hire might cost WAY too much, and entry level wages are basically TOO HIGH.

        kinda sucks for retailers...

        /me points out that high school students don't need a "living wage" - they need employers WILLING TO TAKE A RISK ON HIRING THEM.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Additional cashiers needed on Aisle 2", as per top picture

    Why? Does the one already there, checking her phone, need some company?

    I guess we better get a cashier off the tills then, to help out :-)

    1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      Re: "Additional cashiers needed on Aisle 2", as per top picture

      Do cashiers even inhabit Aisles?

      The only cashier that services specific commodities in the two stores I frequent is the one selling lottery tickets and cigarettes. If AI were to suggest spreading those out across all cashiers then it will be impossible to gauge the length of wait by looking at the amount of stuff inside trolleys/baskets. People buying ciggys is not too bad, but lottery ticket purchases seem to drag on. The message is: Don't do it! Reminds me of the time, many years ago I was first in line after someone had got to the point of paying for a massive trolley-load. "How would you like to pay?" asked the cashier. "Luncheon Vouchers". I should have moved lanes at that point...

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: "Additional cashiers needed on Aisle 2", as per top picture

      It's the new stage in the disruptive gig economy, punters in the supermarket who have a zero hours contract and aren't currently working can be sent a notification and if they accept they can be employed for approximately half an hour.

      Icon is what happens after half an hour.

  3. Stoneshop Silver badge
    Windows

    Bloody hell, how hard would it be to handcraft a bot doing better than Microsoft's?

    "The company also claims to be making virtual agents, or bots, easier to author and with behaviour that is more human-like."

    "It looks like you're buying a packet of tea. Would you like some help with that?"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bloody hell, how hard would it be to handcraft a bot doing better than Microsoft's?

      "It's looks like you're buying a bag of frozen, sliced potatoes. Would you like some help with that?"

      ;)

      1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

        Re: Would you like some help with that?"

        The classic Holy Grail for Data Warehousing would surely be...

        It looks like you're buying some nappies. Would you like some beer with that?

  4. JohnFen Silver badge

    How to improve customer interaction

    "The theme overall is to use pervasive data, IoT, machine learning and AI to streamline production and improve customer interaction."

    Get all that spying, IoT, and machine learning nonsense out of the equation and actually interact with your customers.

  5. C. P. Cosgrove
    Pint

    Privacy - what's that ?

    Old saying seen in a bar - "In God we trust, the rest pay cash !"

    I am fairly well known to the staff in my nearest supermarket, but their computers don't know me from Adam, and that's the way I like it.

    Chris Cosgrove

  6. ThatOne Silver badge
    FAIL

    Leave the poor customer alone!

    > a store manager might use this to recommend additional purchases when a customer visits to pick up an order placed online

    "I see you just bought a new washing machine. Could I interest you in our latest model of washing machines?"...

    I really can't understand how they can believe that harassing people will turn them into customers, and/or will compel them to buy more (of the same). The "I'll kick you in the face until you love me" method was debunked centuries ago. Leave me alone, just make sure I'll find what I'm looking for, when I'm looking for it. Before it's too early, after it's too late.

    1. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Leave the poor customer alone!

      A million times this. Upselling annoys me tremendously, and I tend to avoid patronizing shops that engage in it.

  7. FozzyBear Silver badge
    Windows

    "and on the consumer marketing side the boundary between happy personalisation and creepy tracking is one that deserves careful attention."

    Yeah this is looking "creepy tracking" in he rear vision mirror. This is full on bunny boiler stalker alert.

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