REDMOND, Wash. and NEW YORK — Jan. 12, 2009 – Accenture and Microsoft Corp. today announced an initiative to help retailers tackle the challenge of linking consumers to emerging technology platforms such as social networking and online communities.
Under the multi-channel retail initiative, Accenture and Microsoft will work with Avanade — a global IT consultancy created by Accenture and Microsoft – to help retailers extend the shopping experience to an ever-widening number of locations and devices, including the Web, mobile computing, and even new ways to shop in stores.
This will allow retailers to deliver a wide range of services and products consistently across every channel in which consumers interact with retailers.
“Digital lifestyle and work style will continue to converge in today’s retail industry and, as a result, the connected consumer is increasingly in control,” said Brendan O’Meara, managing director, worldwide retail industry, Microsoft. “Consumers are driven by value and convenience. Retailers need to respond by providing shopping experiences that adapt to the changes in consumer behavior – by providing social, mobile and cross-channel shopping choices. Through delivery of connected shopping experiences, retailers can add tangible value while enhancing their brand and cementing customer loyalty through these challenging economic times.”
The greater integration with the consumer will enable retailers to cut costs and improve customer service by providing tighter integration between the in-store or online shopping experience and line-of-business applications, including inventory and order fulfillment, customer relationship management and loyalty programs.
The retail initiative between the alliance partners will take advantage of:
dedicated resources within all three organizations that help build and deliver successful and repeatable solutions; and
cross-organizational teams within the organizations focused on strategy and technology for Web, e-commerce, and digital marketing.
The initiative was announced at the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) 98th Annual Convention & Expo at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, New York City. It combines the depth of Microsoft’s commerce technologies, Accenture’s global reach and retail industry experience, and Avanade’s business technology expertise on the Microsoft platform.
NRF Demonstration Highlights Capabilities
A new offering, which will be based on the new release of Microsoft Commerce Server 2009, will be unveiled at the convention and will demonstrate the capabilities and importance of real-time integration between online and in-store shopping experiences.
“Retailers are continuing to evolve toward tightly integrated cross-channel operations and will be making significant investments in technology, infrastructure, and organization over the next two years to implement this strategy. Challenges remain, however, as retailers grapple with fragmented systems architecture, align organizational structures, and integrate warehousing, merchandising, analytic, and business intelligence systems; in-store kiosks; web stations; and mobile devices into their cross-channel environments,” according to Chris Fletcher of AMR Research in The State of Cross-Channel Operations: 2008.
The new multi-channel retail initiative expands merchandizing and marketing capabilities to include enhanced product/content management and team collaboration. The demo includes:
A centralized web store portal for managing day-to-day marketing, merchandizing and content management tasks.
Workflow to approve, audit and publish online product information.
Features for consistent, targeted cross-sells, up-sells, pricing and product information across channels; mobile devices for reviewing product information online and SMS messaging for order confirmation.
Cross-channel product location, price comparison and purchasing with a “Cross-Channel In-Store Pickup” feature that will enable an online product catalog to be dynamically synchronized with the POS product catalog and inventory, continuously updating the inventory counts and product catalogs between the web store and physical store locations.
The demo also will show how merchandising and marketing professionals can manage their online content and promotional campaigns in real-time.
Microsoft offers an unparalleled set of capabilities to engage customers in a digital discussion that removes operational silos, reduces complexities and lowers cost. For retailers focused on executing multi-channel and cross-channel strategies, Microsoft provides a powerful set of enabling technologies and solutions. Microsoft’s investment in digital advertising platforms, consumer mobile devices, search, social networking and online content helps retailers and consumer goods companies “connect the dots” in their cross-channel strategies.
“When choosing with whom to do business, customers are increasingly making their choices based on convenience and consistency of experience in the store or online,” said Janet Hoffman, global managing director of Accenture’s retail practice. “Consumers expect their online and in-store interactions with a retailer to be a seamless experience and this is driving the retail industry’s demand for next-generation solutions that incorporate all the ways in which customers purchase from stores. We offer the Microsoft and Avanade solution as our leading e-commerce solution to retailers globally.”
Joe VanWinkle, corporate vice president of market development at Avanade, said, “Retailers are looking for every opportunity to attract and retain customers in a highly competitive and economically challenged environment. We believe offering multiple ways for consumers to interact with retail brands across multiple platforms will meet what today’s consumers require.”
Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company. Combining unparalleled experience, comprehensive capabilities across all industries and business functions, and extensive research on the world’s most successful companies, Accenture collaborates with clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. With more than 186,000 people serving clients in over 120 countries, the company generated net revenues of US $23.39 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2008. Its home page is www.accenture.com.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.
Avanade is a global IT consultancy dedicated to using the Microsoft platform to help enterprises achieve profitable growth. Through proven solutions that extend Microsoft technologies, Avanade helps enterprises increase revenue, reduce costs and reinvest in innovation to gain competitive advantage. Avanade consultants deliver value according to each customer’s requirements, timeline and budget by combining insight, innovation and the talent of our global workforce. Avanade, which is majority owned by Accenture, was founded in 2000 by Accenture and Microsoft Corporation. Avanade has more than 8,000 professionals serving customers in 22 countries worldwide. Additional information can be found at www.avanade.com.
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