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Microsoft Woos Retailers with End-to-End, Profit-Boosting Apps

Microsoft Woos Retailers with End-to-End, Profit-Boosting Apps
By Jennifer LeClaire

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The Redmond-based software giant made a big splash recently in New York at the National Retail Federation Expo, introducing Microsoft Dynamics for Retail and other Microsoft solutions for the retail industry. Used together, Microsoft says these technologies can help retailers boost efficiency and profitability from headquarters to the store floor.
 



Microsoft is working hard to meet the demands of retailers, from the largest global chains down to local retail stores and SMBs, offering a host of enterprise tools that equip businesses to implement effective customer-centric strategies. Indeed, Microsoft is promising that its enterprise solutions can help retailers increase their efficiency, empower their employees, optimize operations, and also take advantage of consumer insights.

While those are big promises, Microsoft says it has a unique perspective on retail solutions, given its own experience with various aspects of the supply chain. That perspective could pay off for retailers, and, for Microsoft's bottom line.

Tracy Issel, general manager of Microsoft's Worldwide Retail Sector, rightly points out: "With our position as a consumer goods company and a retailer, we are uniquely able to help retailers create a connected shopping experience for their customers across multiple channels and touch points, whether it's at home, in the store, or on the go."

Of course, many other technology developers could also claim similar expertise, but Microsoft remains steadfast in its position.

Optimizing Retail Operations

Simply put, Microsoft wants retailers to know that, "Microsoft gets retailers." And, Microsoft understands all too well that technology budgets are still tight. The software giant knows retailers need to keep costs down while also driving competitive differentiation up and meeting customer expectations. And, Microsoft sees it's getting tougher for retailers to attract and retain customers at a profit.

Part of Microsoft's answer to all these challenges is software that can handle Big Data. We're talking about large-scale enterprise applications that can help retailers turn metrics into meaningful insights that could drive efficiencies, boost revenue and increase customer loyalty.

In fact, Microsoft has several technology solutions, including its SQL Server, Windows Server, and Windows Azure platform. These technologies help retailers address Big Data questions by analyzing and delivering data to decision-makers so they can respond to customer demands more quickly.

Retail Customer Success

Microsoft points to Royal Caribbean International as an example of a company using its solutions in this way. Management for the international cruise line says it was was able to realize significant efficiencies with SQL Server, Windows Server and the Windows Embedded platform by optimizing and streamlining operations on its Oasis-class ships, the largest in the world.

With 2,700 staterooms, 6,400 passengers and 2,300 employees, Royal Caribbean implemented an intelligent system to streamline the flow of data across vital information and processes at every level of the ships. Crew members can now use that data to ensure food safety and quality, respond quickly to service requests, and develop personalized promotions and service offerings to cater to passengers' individual needs.

Retail Customer Success

Meanwhile, the recently introduced Microsoft Dynamics for Retail enterprise applications are helping other retailers stay connected and deliver a complete shopping experience through end-to-end, search-based e-commerce, next generation point of service, and an omnichannel engine.

Edwin Watts Golf and Lotus F1, the world renowned car maker, are two companies using the new Microsoft applications. Both companies have been looking to reduce costs and improve efficiency with an integrated Microsoft Dynamics solution. While different in many ways, both companies find they need to adapt and evolve to better serve today's customers, in a digital world that's increasingly complex and interconnected.

"At Microsoft, we are committed to providing a strong consumer experience through each and every product offering available," Issel said. "We are strong in the retail industry because our technologies serve an end-to-end purpose from the headquarters to the stock room to the store floor."
 

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