Facts at a glance
Size of company:
Approximately 500,000 employees with annual revenues of more than $120 billion
The client had a series of legacy applications that it wanted to commercialize and resell as a service to other retailers.
- RaaS applications built in Microsoft® Azure®
- Microsoft Cognitive Services for intelligent analytics
- Real-time data processing and storing
- Solution developed in partnership with Microsoft
- Fast time-to-market
- New revenue opportunities
- Scalable, commercialized RaaS product
Insight’s Digital Innovation solutions help clients incorporate emerging tech into their business operations to improve the customer experience.
Recent shifts in the consumer landscape have put pressure on retailers to evolve or fall out of favor. Today, traditional brick-and-mortar or hybrid retailers need to focus on differentiated offerings and user experience in order to win market share and secure a competitive edge.
A large retail company had a series of legacy applications that it felt could be commercialized and resold as a service to other retailers. Bringing a Retail as a Service (RaaS) offering to the market would not only open new revenue streams but also enable fellow retailers to elevate their capabilities and IT maturity.
As part of this effort, the company established a business unit focused on retail innovation. The group sought an experienced partner to help facilitate a platform for the RaaS product and a method for delivery. It chose Insight due to the relationship our Digital Innovation team had built with the retailer over the past 20 years.
In fact, during the project launch, a number of our team members were already working in hybrid capacities from within the client’s organization. Together, after extensive stakeholder discussions and a comparative analysis, we decided Microsoft Azure would be the best platform for the RaaS offering.
A dedicated, “black belt” team from Microsoft was pulled onto the project to ensure its success. This three-pronged relationship between Insight, Microsoft and the retail client became the balanced foundation upon which an effective solution could be built.
Within two weeks, Insight and Microsoft got the first product into the client’s hands. Previous partners had come nowhere near this level of dexterity and speed. The overall project was two-pronged: readying the platform in Azure and preparing all the RaaS applications to migrate and be hosted in Azure.
Our team had to consider how various businesses would need the RaaS offering to work in unique environments ― accounting for diverse hardware, software and deployment requirements.
Coined an “enablement software built by a retailer for retailers,” the RaaS offering is poised to transform the industry. It uses Azure to store and process data generated in brick-and-mortar stores, near smart shelves and within retailer applications. It includes a virtual store manager, sensor network and connectors designed to incorporate point of sale, inventory management and tag-and-merchandising systems.
Upcoming releases of the RaaS offering will use the client’s smart shelving system — which includes digital displays to show prices, promotions, and nutritional and dietary information. The system will work seamlessly with other functions within the offering.
More than 20 Insight team members and individuals from Microsoft are still hard at work delivering on the promise to have a publicly available RaaS offering in-stores by the end of 2019. Insight will likely be assisting with implementations in Australia and 26 other countries in the coming months.
The client sees this as just a starting point. Stakeholders are already looking forward, anticipating new ways to leverage this technology in the future. Together we’re exploring how video analytics can provide deeper insights to drive improvements for retailers and customers, and how new data points can help retailers control loss and theft. Future innovations are expected to enable even greater operational efficiency, helping retailers remain viable in the years to come.