• January 9, 2020
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

Microsoft Adds Retail-Specific Solutions

Today, Microsoft announced several new retail products related to its Microsoft Dynamics 365 line.

"Microsoft continues to innovate side by side with retailers to help them embrace their biggest opportunities and enable intelligent retail by empowering businesses to take control of their own digital evolution," said Shelley Bransten, Microsoft's corporate vice president for the retail and consumer goods industries, in a blog post earlier today. "Our solutions enable retailers to transform across all parts of their business, from how they better understand their customers and empower employees, to putting the right technology in place to deliver an intelligent supply chain and ultimately reimagine their businesses."

Microsoft, she said, is helping retailers surface actionable customer insights with data solutions like Azure Synapse Analytics, which helps retailers analyze vast amounts of data and then apply machine learning to surface insights that can drive immediate impact for their businesses.

Also new is Dynamics 365 Customer Insights, which helps maximize customer lifetime value by surfacing a 360-degree view of the customer to drive personalized engagements at scale.

Another new offering is Dynamics 365 Commerce, a multichannel solution that unifies retailers' back-office, in-store, call center, and e-commerce experiences. Bransten said that Dynamics 365 Commerce will lead to "more personalized engagement with customers, employees who are better equipped to provide the best customer experience possible, and deep insights to empower advanced decision-making across every piece of a retailer's business."

Dynamics 365 Commerce, which is currently in preview, will become generally available Feb. 3.

Dynamics 365 Connected Store is a new application that provides real-time and predictive insight into the retail space by analyzing data from video cameras and IoT sensors.

U.K. retailer Marks & Spencer is piloting the solution in a store in London.

Microsoft Promote IQ is an end-to-end commerce marketing platform that helps retailers and their brand partners natively promote products to in-market shoppers. With Promote IQ, marketers and their partners can reach shoppers "at the right time to increase digital sales, all supported by a deep analytics suite to deliver impactful audience insights," Bransten said. "And now, thanks to the integration with Microsoft Advertising, we can offer our retailer partners a powerful new source of incremental demand for their programs."

Microsoft Bing for Commerce is an artificial intelligence-driven solution for product search, personalization and product recommendations.

"We're enabling our retailers to meet customers where and how they want to shop through visual search innovation included in Bing for Commerce to help capture sales from new, emerging shopping behaviors," Bransten said.

Microsoft is also enhancing Microsoft Teams, its cloud-based productivity and collaboration suite, with new features, such as task targeting, publishing and reporting, workforce management integrations, a new Walkie Talkie feature with push-to-talk functionality, and enhanced identity and access management capabilities, such as shared device sign-out for Android and inbound provisioning from leading workforce management providers such as SAP SuccessFactors and Workday.

"Later this quarter, retailers will be able to enable SMS sign-in to Microsoft 365 and custom applications for retail workers and empower their store managers with delegated user management capabilities, making it easier to reset passwords and manage workers' identities without additional demand on IT staff," Bransten said.

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