By Tracy Issel

There’s a mantra in retail that seems as critical today as ever: “The only way to grow your business is to know your business.”

Indeed, when retailers have access to the real-time information they need, they’re able to greatly improve the way they manage their businesses. They’re also better able to increase customer engagement and loyalty, while keeping costs low. This trend – optimizing insights, and then applying these insights into back-end systems – is one reason why Microsoft is at the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) Big Show this week in NYC at booth #2703.

Microsoft Dynamics for Retail, offers the industry’s only end-to-end, omni-channel retail platform that combines mobile point-of-sale (POS), e-commerce, order management, supply chain and more – all on a single platform. It does this with a single commerce engine, offered in more countries around the world. Today, we are taking that one step further and announcing new capabilities

The latest capabilities of Microsoft Dynamics for Retail will be delivered later in the spring with a major update to Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012.  This update will include:

  • New advanced features for call center allowing retailers to gain a greater ability to communicate and respond to the needs of their customers. 
  • Modern point of sale that empowers store employees to react and respond to the needs of shoppers on the spot. 
  • Transportation capabilities will ensure better delivery performance meaning the customer gets what they want when they want it.

All these new capabilities will be provided in a fully unified, end-to-end platform. For retailers, this means superior customer engagement, better understanding of your supply chain, better customer insight/visibility and accurate, timely, consistent operations.  Additionally, it offers retailers solutions built to work together.

We are also working with industry partners to really bring this vision to life. Therefore, today we are announcing:

  • Vantiv –a leading provider of payment processing services and technology solutions, will offer a new range of solutions for mobile POS and cloud-connected payments that can help businesses maximize their customer reach at any scale, end-to-end.  From simple mobile payment collection in the field, to individual direct sales transactions, to retail store operations and more, the combination of Microsoft’s technology with Vantiv’s scalable, integrated payment processing services and technology will make it easy for businesses to take full advantage of their most important asset, people, to offer seamless, best-in-class experiences.
  • Sitecore – a global leader in customer experience management software will offer customers the first end-to-end, enterprise eCommerce solution based entirely on Microsoft technology by integrating its leading customer experience platform with Microsoft Dynamics’ leading omni-channel commerce capabilities. This combined solution will give businesses the ability to design fully connected on-line experiences optimized for the behaviors, devices, and preferences of visitors with complete, real-time, omni-channel order management.
  • IBM – We also announced an expanded relationship with IBM, combining the powerful capabilities of Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R3 in retail and distribution with IBM’s proven global leadership in delivering integrated enterprise retail solutions.  The agreement also includes plans for IBM to develop and deploy differentiated IP to offer unique, enhanced value to customers around world.
  • Esri – Esri today announced the release of an enhanced Esri Maps for Dynamics CRM for retailers. Retail customers know that better decisions and profitability come from new insights and understanding of the store network and customer needs, wants and social interactions.  The software adds new analytical perspectives across the omni-channel from a single store to the supply chain Armed with a wealth of real-time, demographic, business, lifestyle, social and basemap data, users can collaborate to author and share analytical intelligence on customers, stores, products, markets and the competition with those that need it most, when they need it.
  • TxT Maple Lake: TXT MAPLE LAKE has created a solution for Windows Phone that allows fashion and retail companies to manage their collection books while on the go, collect orders and access planning data; support offsite meetings with suppliers and manage opportunities; as well as to conduct assortment planning in-store. Now, they can access the information when it is convenient for them.

Of course, Microsoft Dynamics for Retail customers are already realizing the benefits of applying insights to smarter operations. For example:

  • Ashley Furniture: Ashley Furniture is the largest manufacturer of home furnishings in the world, delivering more than 35 million pieces of furniture to homes annually. Ashley sells furniture to more than 123 countries, and is the number one retailer of home furnishings in North America. With significant growth strategies being developed, Ashley Furniture needed a global, single solution that had localization features. They ultimately chose Microsoft Dynamics AX Retail because of the direct relationship with Microsoft it offered through Microsoft Consulting Service, because of the cost advantages of Microsoft Dynamics for Retail vs. the competition and because it is a flexible solution which allows ease in omni-channel retail development. Ashley Furniture currently has close to 500 stores and Microsoft Dynamics AX will support most if not all of the stores as well as omni-channel retail.
  • Delta Air Lines: Delta Air Lines recently announced that its global team of more than 19,000 flight attendants has started using Windows Phone 8 to interact with customers. These in-flight, Wi-Fi connected devices will leverage an Avanade point of sale (POS) experience on the Microsoft Dynamics for Retail mobile point-of-sale platform. Windows Phone running Microsoft Dynamics for Retail has the power and scale to support Delta’s business and help them continue to build their brand reputation by delivering outstanding customer experiences.

Microsoft is excited to offer new Dynamics capabilities to help retailers understand their operations in new ways, allowing them to be more in-tune with customer needs and, essentially, with what will help make their business a success.