Beyond Brick and Mortar: Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 for Retail Launches Today

REDMOND, Wash. – Feb. 1, 2012 – Retail used to mean walking into a brick-and-mortar store, browsing the goods and displays, and hearing the ding of the cash register upon checkout, but things aren’t so simple anymore.

Microsoft can help.

Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 for Retail, the new version of Microsoft’s end-to-end software solution for midsize and enterprise retailers, launches in 25 countries today. Experience the virtual launch here.

Microsoft Dynamics aims to help retailers tackle a growing number of business considerations, including mobile and Web sales, social media, rapid growth, global distribution, multi-faceted customer interaction, modernized in-store experiences, and complex pricing and inventory.

The newest version of Microsoft Dynamics is the ultimate control panel for a retailer to easily automate, streamline, control, and adapt various aspects of their business simultaneously, said Michael Griffiths, global director of retail and distribution for Microsoft Dynamics.

“When you look at what’s happening in the retail market, businesses have to keep up with and adapt to fast-moving trends and ever-widening customer expectations,” Griffiths said. “Our strength is that Microsoft Dynamics offers a complete hub that provides not only core capabilities like point of sale, inventory, supply chain, and financials, but also deep integration with Microsoft’s full line of business applications such as SharePoint, Visual Studio, and Excel.”

Microsoft Dynamics AX for Retail offers a complete hub of capabilities like point of sale (shown above), inventory, supply chain, and financials, and also deep integration with Microsoft business applications.

Griffiths said this can help retailers be true to the software’s name – more dynamic – in a number of areas. Customers in 30 countries have adopted Microsoft Dynamics for this reason, he said, including DAVIDsTEA, P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, Sephora , Ralph Lauren, Marc Jacobs, Malabar Gold, Turisme de Barcelona, Carol’s Daughter, Sally Beauty Supply, Ashley Furniture Industries, and, of course, Microsoft stores.

Microsoft is in a unique position, in that it’s the only major organization on the planet that sells consumer products, that is a retailer, and that offers a comprehensive line of products to help other businesses sell their products and other retailers get their products to market, Griffiths said.

“We have a lot of big customers around the world who are using Dynamics to run their entire business end-to-end,” Griffiths said. “Retail has become another Microsoft success story. We’ve got a world-class retail experience in our Microsoft stores, and now we have a world-class retail solution.”

That can mean sales associates using tablet PCs rather than standing at a fixed cash register to get more face time with customers. It can mean offering promotions, discounts, or coupons targeted to social networks. It can mean offering customers a seamless experience online and in person.

“So how do you compete and build loyalty with customers in a world where they have so many choices? We’ve got solutions that directly address that question along with a lot of the trends that are driving retail,” Griffiths said. “Dynamics is about being connected without compromise to the customer, and to reach them how, when, and where they shop.”

Microsoft Dynamics also helps retailers do heavy lifting on the business’s back-end without having to do complicated coding. Want to add a new retail location? Microsoft Dynamics lets users see their entire business graphically, and even easily drag and drop graphics to create new store locations in the system or to add new distribution channels.

Michael Griffiths, global director of retail and distribution for Microsoft Dynamics.

This has come in handy for one early adopter, Mattress Firm. The largest mattress retailer in the U.S., Mattress Firm needed a solution that could accommodate its aggressive expansion plans while also helping employees provide the best customer service possible, said Patty Wade, the company’s chief information officer and vice president of strategic planning.

“The change of the retail environment from brick-and-mortar stores is intense,” Wade said. “Being a retailer is now about more than being a store. It’s about adapting to those changes, and talking to your customers in different mediums, not just at the cash register.”

Wade said many retailers – especially in the mattress and furniture industries – piece together their IT business applications for things such as sales, inventory, and distribution, and sometimes need even more software to help integrate and manage all of those various applications.

With more than 800 locations, 30 warehouses, a corporate headquarters in Houston, and a satellite corporate office, it was crucial that Mattress Firm find a solution that would help with consistency while growing and adapting along with the company.

“We were looking for a platform that would allow us to scale in the future, and that would accommodate our business’s little nuances in inventory and scheduling,” Wade said. “We wanted software that allowed us to take those nuances and couple them with retail best practices that you don’t get from niche software. When we looked at Microsoft Dynamics it really became apparent to us that it was a tool with both flexibility and functionality.”

She said working with Microsoft has been a “breath of fresh air.”

“I’ve worked with other big software companies on retail implementations and small niche players as well. The niche players are always going to pay attention to you, but the larger the company, the harder it is to get their dedication to your project and your success,” Wade said. “We’ve seen tremendous partnering from Microsoft not just in Dynamics but in general. They’re really trying to listen to and react to us. It’s been such a great experience.”

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