By Peter K. Han, Microsoft Vice President of US OEM

image

I’m fascinated when industries converge to such a degree that they become more powerful together than they are by themselves. Retail and technology are two such industries, and their mutually beneficial relationship was underscored at the 2014 National Retail Federation convention earlier this month. At the event, IHL Group President, Greg Buzek, shared research findings indicating that 2014 will be one for innovation and growth in the retail space, with retailers planning to invest at unprecedented levels in technologies that expand their businesses.

In turn, both hardware and software innovators have a massive opportunity to solve problems and expand their own businesses with the retail market. More shopping is happening online, connected consumers expect streamlined, social experiences and even the smallest retailers are competing on a global scale, thanks to the Internet. And amidst—and because of—all of this shifting, Microsoft and its partners are delivering end-to-end solutions and devices that empower retailers to thrive in today’s shopping environment.

We were proud to share our thinking and technologies for the retail industry at the NRF convention. It was an exciting event for our company and our OEM partners, as we debuted the commercial Windows 8.1 tablets geared towards retail, as well as offered a view into the new Microsoft Dynamics for Retail features, expected in April of this year.

As a retailer, I hope you’re excited, too. These innovations can help you make the sale and, more broadly, increase the industry’s power to meet the need for the customers of the future:

  • imageWindows 8.1 devices. Laptops, tablets, and handheld Windows 8.1 devices are revolutionizing the way retailers conduct point-of-sale, and assisted sales transactions, in addition to retail execution and store operations. How much more do you imagine you’d sell with a device that enabled you to provide on-demand product information, connect to inventory databases and process credit card sales, on the floor? OEMs are bringing their brightest thinking to the retail space with devices like the Dell Venue 11 Pro, with high battery capacity and great cameras; the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet2, featuring a bright, vibrant display that remains viewable even at extreme angles; and the Acer W4-820, which offers an optional Bluetooth keyboard with an integrated cover/stand that helps sales associates move smoothly between a tablet and laptop utility.
  • imageDynamics for Retail. The newest release features innovations in modern, mobile commerce, catalog and call center sales, as well as advanced operations for warehousing and transportation and logistics management. Managed by a true omni-channel commerce engine, these new capabilities help businesses deliver truly amazing shopping experiences that satisfy customers. Also, new Microsoft alliances with Vantiv Inc. and Sitecore strengthen our ability to extend payment and POS innovation and real-time data insights to our retail solutions. The result will be more convenient, personalized and compelling retail outcomes—for both shoppers and the retailers that cater to them.

Technology’s role in the consumer shopping experience has exponentially grown in recent years, and so should its role in the retailers’ operational and customer service strategies.

Twitter_coolgrey11How is your retail business using technology to maximize the shopping environment or serve your customers? Or how are you, as an OEM, capitalizing on the increasingly tech-centric retail landscape? Follow me on Twitter @PeterHanMSFT and share your ideas.