Consumers today are more sophisticated, technologically savvy, and digitally connected than ever before. As a result, they are both more empowered in how, when, and where they shop and more demanding in what they expect from their shopping experiences. It is no longer enough for a retailer to be able to sell in multiple channels such as brick and mortar, call centers, and online. They need to seamlessly integrate these channels and offer personal and differentiated experiences that enable a consumer to effortlessly move across channels or quickly risk becoming obsolete. This ability in today’s terms is called omni-channel retail.
Drilling a little deeper, what does a seamless and integrated shopping experience mean for today’s consumer and for today’s retailer? For today’s consumer, it means having a targeted promotion follow them from Facebook to their mobile phone to the brick and mortar store where it can be redeemed. It means being able to order online and select a store for pick up, or purchase in store and return it online. It means being able to accrue loyalty points irrespective of where they made their purchase. And for today’s retailer, it means merchandising – inventory, pricing and promotion and more – tightly integrated across all channels. It means having 360-degree cross channel visibility in real-time so they can strategically interact with their customer.
At the core of Microsoft’s retail solution is Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R2. With the powerful enhancements being delivered in this latest release, Microsoft Dynamics for Retail offers a fully integrated end-to-end solution enabling retailers to seamlessly manage all their channels from a single solution powered by a single commerce engine. And, with the addition of a fully integrated web store-front powered by Microsoft SharePoint 2013 and natively integrated to Microsoft Dynamics for Retail, the unique value extends all the way to the online customer experience. This unique e-commerce solution delivers one of the industry’s first native integration of web store-front and digital content management to purpose built order fulfillment, shipping, payment, catalog and more on the back end. Microsoft Dynamics for Retail is the engine behind a powerful SharePoint online experience – resulting in experiences that are timely, accurate, and reliable like never before.
This powerful e-commerce solution from Microsoft offers retailers a ground-breaking solution not only in its integration and control, but also in the technology on which it is based. While most e-commerce solutions today are engineered as web pages with search, the Microsoft solution is actually built on search - meaning that web pages are dynamically built as the solution incorporates managed content, authored content, item detail from Microsoft Dynamics and more. The solution doesn’t stop there as historical clickstream data is continuously incorporated to impact recommended items and the very way content is presented to the consumer – driving an adaptive and tailored experience made more relevant with each page view.
So what is the impact to the retailer in deploying this next generation e-commerce solution? Actually, with so much power and so little coding; a single management platform; consistent technology stack; and native integration managed by Microsoft – the retailer’s only struggle may be determining whether it’s their customers or e-commerce team who benefits most.
The Dynamic Retailer is connected without compromise; personally relevant; agile and opportunistic. Consumers expect nothing less, and the technology on which retailers build their foundation for the future will determine if they can deliver on their brand promise and thrive in today’s new retail reality. Microsoft is committed to delivering a complete vision for retail built on innovation and a unique value proposition that delivers on the promise of true omni-channel retail.
Michael Griffiths - Global Director Retail & Distribution