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Microsoft expands retail tech presence in China with Hanshow deal

The Chinese retail tech company will use Azure to manage its technology at over 20,000 stores across 50 countries

Chinese digital retail firm Hanshow will use Microsoft's technology to expand globally, undergo digital transformation, and produce cloud-based software for its clients around the world, as part of a new deal.

Through the new collaboration, Hanshow is set to adopt Microsoft Azure while prioritising Microsoft technology in its products to retail clients. Hanshow said this will allow it to unify its global information systems, improve efficiency and security, and consequently enhance the company’s competitiveness.

Microsoft will also provide technical support to the digital retail firm in co-creating cloud-based products that use the tech giant’s machine learning, IoT, and data technology.

“Hanshow’s solutions empowered by Microsoft Azure are at the heart of digital transformation in the retail industry, and by partnering with Hanshow we can enable retail customers around the world together,” said Joe Bao, VP of Microsoft in China.

Hanshow claims to be one of the world’s leading electronic shelf label (ESL) providers, with products in use at over 20,000 stores across 50 countries. It said many of its clients are some of the world’s top retailers, operating hundreds of stores across multiple geographies.

Hanshow stated that managing ESL across a retailer's multiple stores requires significant investment in IT infrastructure and technology. However, as the company has already seen in Europe and Australia, by adopting a SaaS solution using Microsoft Azure, it can manage over 10 million ESL and other IoT devices across geographies through a remote network, and it can be done without new infrastructure or other investments.

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“This partnership with Microsoft not only helps streamline our company’s operations,” said Hou Shiguo, Hanshow CEO, “it also provides us with the lightweight and highly adaptable technology our retail clients need to dramatically increase their efficiency and drive profits for their business.”

Microsoft announced its new retail-focused cloud service in January this year, which includes features from Azure, Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365, Power Platform, and Microsoft Advertising. It’s unified through a common data model and built on a compliant and secure platform.

The tech giant's services already operate across several retail chains, with, for example, Microsoft Azure delivering 200 million purchase forecasts a day to Walgreens to help the retail company ensure the right items are in stock at the right time. Microsoft also has a deal with Chipotle to supply the firm with analytical tools to help it better understand customer preferences and expand its loyalty programme.

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