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China drives retail innovation from East to West, says Microsoft executive

2020-01-17 14:53

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NEW YORK, Jan. 15 (Xinhua) -- China leads in the innovation and transformation of the retail industry and provides some experience in this to the West, an executive with Microsoft's Asian operations has said in a recent interview with Xinhua.

China is one of the leaders in the retail industry, especially when it comes to consumption and how it drives the transformation, said Raj Raguneethan, who currently leads Microsoft's retail and consumer goods industries business across Asia.

"We see a lot of our global customers working with us to come and understand what's happening and how Chinese consumers engage and how the retailers are delivering that experience, and then bring back some of those from the East to the West," said Raguneethan on the sidelines of Retail's Big Show 2020, an annual expo of the U.S. National Retail Federation.

Raguneethan cited the amount of sales, supply chain and customer engagement on China's Singles' Day on Nov. 11, a shopping event akin to Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the United States, as an example in this regard.

Delivery for products and services within 30 minutes is still the benchmark which the rest of the world is looking to meet, said the experienced retailer.

As retail is one of Microsoft's top priorities in China, the company has engaged extensively with both domestic and international clients and helped them with digital transformation, said Raguneethan, who has been working at Microsoft since 2010.

He said Microsoft has helped Chinese products and services go global and has also brought global customers to China.

Microsoft has showcased applications of its artificial intelligence (AI) technologies on various platforms, featuring customers' age groups, personalized promotions and pricing as well as supply chain logistics fulfillment and optimization of the supply chain, he added.

AI technology in the Chinese retail industry has been widely used from engaging customers to delivery, said Raguneethan.

He added that China's online-to-offline model of delivery is very advanced and probably one of the best when it comes to consumer experience.

Microsoft has an accelerator program in China, working with startups to stimulate innovation and scale it up in Asia, said Raguneethan.

Raguneethan added that brick and mortar stores still contribute a lot to retail sales and its ratio will continue to grow.

Retailers will increasingly use AI for customer engagement, supply chain logistics fulfillment and warehouses, and AI will become standard in the future, said Raguneethan.
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