UPDATED: Microsoft Adds Dynamics Suite for Retailers
Microsoft this week has rolled out a turnkey solution that ties front-end CRM functions with back-end ERP and supply chain management systems.
The company used the National Retail Federation (NRF) show in New York, historically the largest gathering of technology professionals in the retail and consumer packaged goods industry, to showcase its Microsoft Dynamics for Retail solution.
The suite ties together Microsoft Dynamics AX 4.0, which provides a front-end interface for business operations including CRM, financials supply chain, BI and other operational functions; the Dynamics Retail Management System, a point of sale platform with both in-store and headquarters components; and Retail Chain Manager for Dynamics AX, which includes modules to support pricing, inventory, campaign and store management as well as various reporting functions.
Microsoft Dynamics for Retail is targeted at a large swath of retailers, although not the big-box stores such as WalMart, Target and Best Buy. Instead, Dynamics for Retail targets chains that have large numbers of smaller stores, such as jewelers, record stores, clothiers and wineries, said Michael Griffiths, Microsoft's group product manager for the Dynamics suite, in a telephone interview Monday.
Retailers using the combined system will have access to real-time data that will allow lines of business to make better pricing, merchandising and promotional decisions, according to Microsoft.
Developers can customize the solution using the Dynamics SDKs, which allow them to expose APIs that support standardized Web services to create calls that can change the characteristics of transaction business logic, payment processing or, say, characteristics of customers and suppliers.
In conjunction with the rollout, Microsoft showcased the first customer of the new solution, the Dallas Cowboys, who have their own specialty retail stores with 29 separate operations ranging from apparel to oil and real estate, according to Griffiths. "They've been able to consolidate all of those into a single platform," he said. "Now they have a consistent look and feel."
The Dallas Cowboys organization had representatives at the Microsoft booth at NRF, but Griffiths admitted while it was the right time and place to roll out the new solution for the company, the timing could have been better for the customer -- or at least the circumstances.
The Cowboys just a day earlier lost in the NFC Divisional playoff series to the New York Giants for the right to play in the conference championship game. "The timing could have been a bit better," Griffiths said.
Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of ADTmag.com and news editor of Visual Studio Magazine.