Microsoft is doubling down on retail, and it wants to be the first place companies turn to beef up their tech offerings to compete with Amazon.
Today, Microsoft unveiled several new retail- and logistic-centric tools from Dynamics 365, the company’s enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management offering. The new capabilities focus on helping retailers connect their in-store and digital experiences and using technology to gain new insights for the business. Here is a look at a few of the new tools:
- Dynamics 365 Commerce aims to bridge gaps between retailers’ digital and physical stores, creating a seamless “omni-channel” experience. Microsoft said in a blog post it is working with Seattle-area winery Ste. Michelle Wine Estates to “power a comprehensive customer engagement platform capable of integrating distinct brands across all its direct-to-consumer sales channels.”
- Microsoft is leveraging its expertise in artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things to help retailers understand what’s going on inside their stores. The new Dynamics 365 Connected Store app lets retailers monitor and analyze customer behavior via cameras and sensors, track temperatures in frozen food cases and send real time alerts to employees when extra personnel is needed in a specific area of the store.
- Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection aims to “decrease fraud costs and help increase acceptance rates for customer payment transactions with e-commerce merchants,” according to the blog post. The application uses AI that learns and adapts to “evolving fraudulent patterns” in combatting payment and account creation fraud.
In addition to the retail tools, Microsoft unveiled Dynamics 365 tools for automating customer service and using IoT sensors to predict maintenance needs for manufacturing equipment before something goes wrong.
Microsoft has made retail an important pillar of its business in recent years as technology in the industry has evolved and companies look for an edge against Amazon. Microsoft has formed partnerships with many of Amazon’s retail rivals in recent years, including Walmart, Kroger and others, to develop new cloud-based technologies for e-commerce and the in-store experience.