January 12, 2014 6:00 pm

Windows Opens Doors for Retailers

We’re in New York this week at the National Retail Federation’s annual conference talking with retailers about how Windows can help grow their businesses, increase customer satisfaction and reduce costs. Technology continues to impact consumer shopping behavior and experiences as our world becomes more and more mobile. Our goal at Microsoft is to help retailers take advantage of the right technology for their organizations that will result in increased business and customer satisfaction.

According to a recent study conducted for Microsoft by Forrester Consulting, surveyed firms report that Windows 8 tablets can increase the effectiveness and accuracy of sales associates, resulting in increased customer satisfaction. Furthermore, businesses can take advantage of advanced management capabilities, high-level security and lower total purchase costs when compared with utilizing non-Windows tablets.*

Windows tablets are enabling a variety of business scenarios for retail customers, from helping sales associates improve customer service, boost productivity, and increase the size of customer sales. With Windows tablets, retailers can provide their customers with a convenient, fast purchase experience anywhere in the store through a modern point of sale device, and enable field reps and merchandisers to efficiently manage retail execution end to end. This video provides a great overview of line-of-business (LOB) scenarios that retail companies can leverage using a range of Windows devices:

We’re seeing these benefits ring true for many of our customers, including Avis Car Rental, which operates 5,200 locations in more than 165 countries. They are leveraging Windows tablets and devices to create premium customer experiences. Avis has developed a modern Windows ‘Select & Go’ app to improve customers’ check out experience. Instead of standing at the counter, customers can be helped by associates wherever they are, including a walk out to the Avis car rental lot where customers can select a car and choose to upgrade on the spot instead of going back inside. For a busy traveler, this promises to offer a much improved and more efficient travel experience. Avis is also using the mobile device and app to check people back in and offer a mobile point-of-sale for quicker, more convenient service.

MICROS provides integrated Point-of-Sale (POS) and enterprise solutions for every type and size of organization in the retail and hospitality industries. MICROS solutions are utilized in retail and hospitality businesses in more than 180 countries. They are also collaborating with Microsoft, as well as Dell and Intel, to help further enhance the experience of their customers. MICROS is creating new food and beverage POS solutions built on Windows Embedded 8.1 Industry that give businesses a stunning experience that’s seamless across devices. They’re also working to make their software suite available on Windows 8.1 and Windows Embedded 8.1.

This means that food and beverage companies around the world will be more productive and be able to offer superior experiences to employees and customers. All restaurant staff, servers and managers alike, will have the information they need right at their fingertips. Windows POS solutions bring a fluid touch experience to retailers, highly customizable through Live Tiles, and allow any staff member to do all the things they need to do from one device. Wait staff can undock the tablet and walk away from the station to show menus or the latest sports score to customers, and of course, place an order. Managers can use the same device with access to different information to manage things like food costing, food or liquor inventory, or employee management. This consistent experience across devices and the flexibility of the MICROS system will help food and beverage retailers be more productive and offer superior experiences to employees and customers.

Another great example of what we’re doing in retail is a “Connected Fitting Room” that Microsoft, Accenture and Avanade developed and we’re showing for the first time at NRF. When a customer enters a Connected Fitting Room carrying RFID-tagged garments, the solution automatically recognizes the items and displays them graphically on a Windows-based touchscreen. From there, the user can select a different size, style, or color as well as browse and even request related recommendations, all of which will be sent to a store associate’s smartphone on the shop floor for immediate fulfillment. The solution also collects anonymous data from all visits in a Microsoft SQL Server database. Through a combination of Accenture analytics and Microsoft business intelligence tools, this data is transformed into insights, such as average time customers spend in the fitting room, how many items are brought in or store associate response times, for the store manager to access through the solution dashboard on a tablet or laptop all through the magic of this Intelligent System that combines digital, cloud and analytics to transform the retail fitting room experience.

If you’re at NRF this week, be sure to check out the Windows Big !deas Session on Monday from 1:00-1:45pm and come visit us in the Microsoft booth (#2703) for a close up look at the Connected Fitting Room. Stay up to speed with Microsoft happenings at NRF this week on the Vertical Industries blog.

*Findings based on a composite organization. The Total Economic Impact Of Microsoft Windows Tablet Devices For Retail Organizations, a commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Microsoft, December 2013.

Updated November 8, 2014 1:12 am