NEW YORK — Jan. 12, 2009 — Showcasing new and emerging technologies that create connected and differentiated experiences for consumers throughout the retail environment, Microsoft Corp. today announced its new Retail Experience Center, which serves as a center of innovation for how Microsoft and the retail industry can address rising consumer expectations and competitive pressures during today’s challenging economic conditions.
Located at Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, Wash., the Retail Experience Center is a private, 20,000-square-foot facility housing a fully functioning, interactive store environment, from point of service to receiving dock. Representing a blend of Microsoft’s merchandising efforts as a consumer goods company and its solution capabilities as a technology provider for the retail industry, the center is part of Microsoft’s ongoing investments in exploring how technology-driven innovations can enhance consumers’ lives and shopping experiences.
The Retail Experience Center features in-store displays of Microsoft consumer products and showcases powerful ways to cut costs, create efficiencies, streamline operations, and promote and sell goods — within the aisles, in the employee break room, at receiving and shipping, at checkout, across the Web, and even at home or on the go.
“With changing consumer demands and slowed spending, increasing shopper loyalty and frequency while managing costs is critical for retailers’ success,” said Bill Gonzalez, general manager, Worldwide Distribution and Services Sector at Microsoft. “Through the immersive setting of the Retail Experience Center, our retail customers can emerge with an in-depth sense of how software and innovations can help them rise above competitive pressures and industry regulations to create a consumer-driven operation — one that consistently delivers a differentiated customer experience across multiple channels while empowering employees to make every square foot of retail space as profitable and productive as possible.”
Visitors to the center can experience more than 25 technology innovations and partner solutions in action. These showcase how Microsoft and its industry partners are directly benefiting consumers and the retail industry in the following ways:
Build connected shopping experiences and customer loyalty. A hands-on environment with seamless, multichannel integration, the Retail Experience Center encourages visitors to try easy, more natural ways to interact with and access digital content. Interactive technologies include digital signage and kiosks plus applications that deliver targeted, real-time information to a shopping cart or on a consumer’s mobile phone to help influence buying decisions, sales and customer loyalty. Innovations include Microsoft Surface, Microsoft Advertising solutions, Microsoft radio frequency identification infrastructure, Microsoft Tag, Microsoft Commerce Server 2009 and the multitouch features in Windows 7.
Improve business insights and decision-making. From the employee break room to assisted selling devices on the sales floor to a store manager’s workbench, the center showcases innovations across the entire retail environment. Visitors can experience how technology can empower retail employees with better visibility, support collaboration for increased productivity, and enable a seamless consumer experience. Innovations include Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009, Microsoft unified communications offerings, Microsoft business intelligence solutions, Windows Mobile and Microsoft Office PerformancePoint Server 2007.
Create operational efficiencies. Retailers can cut costs, lower expenses and increase operational efficiencies with technologies for store systems integration, performance management, proactive remote monitoring of a store’s environment, virtualization and enhanced data security capabilities. Environmental sustainability is also demonstrated throughout the center from the design of the building to the management of in-store technology and the eco-friendly packaging for products on its shelves. Technologies include Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007 and Windows Server 2008 with Hyper-V technology.
Center Serves as Test Facility to Influence New Products, Consumer Programs
The Retail Experience Center is also part of Microsoft’s larger effort to establish a research facility to better understand and address how consumers are experiencing the Windows brand at retail as they select and purchase PCs. Acting as a test facility, it will give the retail industry a unique opportunity to provide feedback that can directly influence future Microsoft products and how it sells to consumers.
“Customers have told us they want Microsoft to play a more active role in their technology experiences, by helping direct them to the specific products, services and technologies that will most benefit their unique needs,” said Brad Brooks, corporate vice president for Windows Consumer Product Marketing at Microsoft.
As a result of consumer feedback, early pilots with retailers have included branded store-within-a-store displays, with some featuring trained Microsoft Gurus to assist PC buyers.
Tours of the facility are conducted by invitation only for Microsoft customers, partners and members of the press. Additional details about the Microsoft Retail Experience Center can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/presskits/rec/default.mspx.
Innovation on Display at Retail Industry Event
A number of technologies and emerging innovations within the Retail Experience Center are on display today in Microsoft’s booth No. 637 at the National Retail Federation (NRF) 98th Annual Convention and Expo in New York. Attendees can see demonstrations of solutions that help to cut costs, create efficiencies, streamline operations and drive customer loyalty through connected experiences. Innovations include Microsoft Surface; Microsoft Dynamics solutions; a preview of Microsoft Commerce Server 2009, a comprehensive platform for multichannel e-commerce solutions with new built-in shopping features; Microsoft Tag, a new mobile marketing solution that quickly and easily connects mobile users with mobile content from publishers and peers; and the new multitouch features and gestures in Windows 7.
Microsoft also unveiled several new products and industry alliances today at the NRF convention including the following:
Windows Embedded POSReady 2009, the next generation of Windows Embedded for Point of Service (POS), is Microsoft’s embedded operating system optimized for OEMs building POS solutions and enterprises using POS devices. This next-generation POS platform is a flexible operating system designed to seamlessly connect POS solutions with peripherals, servers and services. The improved flexibility of the new Windows Embedded POSReady 2009 platform will offer retailers a familiar next-generation solution that is easily deployed and remotely managed and provides new storage options, lowering the total cost of ownership of POS devices.
Microsoft, Accenture and Avanade announced a multichannel alliance and demonstrated solutions to help retailers provide a shopping experience that connects with consumers through social networking and online communities. The alliance provides dedicated resources from each organization and demonstrates real-time integration between the in-store and online shopping experiences.
More information about Microsoft’s participation and announcements at the NRF convention can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/presskits/industries/retail/default.mspx.
About Microsoft in Retail
Microsoft provides software that helps empower retail’s biggest assets — its people — to make better decisions at every stage of the value chain. Microsoft software helps enable retail employees to strengthen customer relationships, build high-value business connections and improve operations by addressing key areas such as store systems, real-time analytics and supply chain management. Through a combination of Microsoft- and partner-provided solutions, retail customers enable their employees to deliver an outstanding customer experience across various channels by turning data into insight, transforming ideas into action and turning change into opportunity. More information about Microsoft’s work in the retail industry can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/retail.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.
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