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@DXWorldExpo Authors: Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Yeshim Deniz, Liz McMillan, William Schmarzo

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Retailers Sold on Microsoft Enterprise Solutions

Companies engage customers and employees, optimize their operations, and look to the future with Microsoft technologies.

REDMOND, Wash., Jan. 14, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Consumers have increased options for how and when they shop. To stay competitive, retailers must put customers at the heart of their businesses and seek new ways to deliver the most value, revenue and loyalty. Microsoft Corp. gives retailers the tools and technology needed to fully implement a customer-centric strategy across the enterprise by increasing efficiency, empowering employees, taking advantage of consumer insights and optimizing operations.

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20000822/MSFTLOGO)

"With our position as a consumer goods company and a retailer, we are uniquely able to help retailers create a connected shopping experience for their customers across multiple channels and touch points, whether it's at home, in the store or on the go," said Tracy Issel, general manager, Worldwide Retail Sector, Microsoft.

Engaging Your Customers
In the digital age, the lines between traditional and digital retail channels have blurred. Retailers are seeking new ways to deliver a seamless customer experience across all channels as consumers have more options and greater expectations when they shop and interact with retailers. Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 deliver multiple options for retailers to improve interactions with customers.

The Windows Phone 8 operating system brings real innovation to the experience through built-in near-field communication, a mobile Wallet, an engaging mobile app experience, and Bing local and visual search, while Windows 8 provides the platform for retailers to reach their customers wherever they may be.

With 60 million Windows 8 licenses sold to date and apps that are available in more than 200 markets worldwide, Windows 8 represents unprecedented access for retailers to reach new customers and build stronger relationships. Windows 8 works with different form factors and device sizes, allowing shopping apps to shine on large-screen All-in-Ones, as well as lightweight tablets — ideal for both in-store interactions and at-home catalogue browsing. With top retailers such as Amazon, eBay, Home Shopping Network, Newegg, Dell and Office Depot already in the Windows Store, consumers have a broad selection of apps to find what they are looking for.

Engaging Your Employees
Research shows the need for more consistent store execution/employee productivity and improving customer service are two of the top three challenges for retailers. Faced with increasing online competition, retailers must deliver differentiated and superior in-store experiences that address these challenges by taking advantage of their biggest asset: their people. To do that, retailers must provide the cutting-edge technology tools employees need and the up-to-date, personalized service consumers expect.

Retailers are moving to the cloud to reduce costs, engage employees and improve customer service, and they are increasingly choosing Microsoft Office 365. Six of the top 10 largest retailers in the U.S. use Office 365, including premier retail brands such as BCBG, GAP, Hallmark, Lowe's, and McDonald's.

Office 365 provides retailers with flexible, familiar communication and social networking tools that allow store employees to connect and work with one another from virtually any device or location. With Office 365, employees from across regions and time zones can answer customer questions in real time and share best practices. Retail headquarters can roll out new offers and promotions more quickly and easily and get real-time feedback from the front lines to keep their competitive edge to thrive.

Optimizing Your Operators
As technology budgets remain tight in current economic conditions, the need to keep costs down, address competition and customer expectations, and be ever-present on a number of channels and devices have all combined to make it harder for retailers to win and retain customers while remaining profitable. In addition, organizations are looking to better turn big data into meaningful insights, further driving efficiencies, revenue and loyalty.

Microsoft technologies such as SQL Server, Windows Server and Windows Azure allow retailers to address the big data question through quickly analyzing and delivering data to decision-makers, making them agile and efficient in giving consumers what they want. Royal Caribbean International found significant efficiencies with SQL Server, Windows Server and the Windows Embedded platform by optimizing and streamlining operations on its Oasis-class ships, the largest in the world. With 2,700 staterooms, 6,400 passengers and 2,300 employees, Royal Caribbean implemented an intelligent system to streamline the flow of data across vital information and processes at every level of the ships. Crew members can use that data to ensure food safety and quality, respond quickly to service requests, and develop personalized promotions and service offerings to cater to passengers' individual needs.

Microsoft Dynamics for Retail enables retailers to be connected, empowered and deliver a complete shopping experience through end-to-end, search-based e-commerce; next generation point of service; and a true omnichannel engine. Edwin Watts Golf and Lotus F1 are looking to reduce costs and improve efficiency with an integrated Microsoft Dynamics solution to adapt and serve the needs of an increasingly complex digital consumer and IT world.

"At Microsoft, we are committed to providing a strong consumer experience through each and every product offering available," Issel said. "We are strong in the retail industry because our technologies serve an end-to-end purpose from the headquarters to the stock room to the store floor. We look forward to seeing how retailers are able to better adapt to the ever-changing economic environment through their partnership with us."

More information about how organizations are turning to Microsoft technology is available on the Microsoft Customer Spotlight newsroom.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq "MSFT") is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

SOURCE Microsoft Corp.

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