This week at the National Retail Federation Annual Conference and EXPO (NRF) in New York, Microsoft discusses the details of its retail strategy, which focuses on transforming those one-off applications, devices and databases into an end-to-end solution.
Microsoft's retail strategy involves the use of intelligent systems that enable the flow of data across a company's infrastructure, from specialized devices to back-end systems and services where it's translated into strategic insight and business decisions.
One of the example is the Kinect for Windows SDK, which was announced at the CES last week, and offered a conceptual example of how Kinect for Windows and Windows Embedded can work together to reinvent the retail experience. Microsoft with Razorfish developed a proof-of-concept scenario much like this, which will be on display at NRF.
[T]he Razorfish demo combines an NEC digital sign with Kinect for Windows to engage customers before they even enter the store. Inside, customers encounter the same combination of technologies in a virtual dressing room experience that allows them to view, navigate and see how garments look on a lifelike avatar version of themselves, without having to switch outfits or sort through sizes, Microsoft explains.
The Samsung SUR40 for Microsoft Surface is also part of the mix in this demo, as well as another demo for NRF that Microsoft created with IdentityMine. "In both cases, customers can immerse themselves in a 40-inch touch-screen environment to find more information on the products that interest them. The Samsung SUR40 also becomes a useful tool for sales associates to upsell or cross-sell by providing visual, on-the-spot comparisons between products," the company concludes.
The critical component in all these scenarios is being able to generate, track and harness a variety of data streams. "For example, the aforementioned NEC digital signs demonstrated during NRF feature a corresponding Microsoft Tag for each featured retail item on display. Whenever a customer captures that tag with a Windows Phone 7 or other smartphone, it generates a piece of data that helps retailers track what products are attracting the most attention and monitor the preferences of customers that are enrolled in their customer loyalty program through applications such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM," explained Microsoft.
All of the Windows Embedded-based devices included in these demos sport a pre-installed Windows Embedded Device Manager, which should provide IT professionals with the possibility to gain increased control over critical devices, such as POS systems, hand-held devices, digital signs and kiosks.
Data from these is analyzed through variety of Microsoft applications and third-party services that live within a company's channels, datacenters or on a public cloud including: Dynamics AX 2012 for Retail, SQL Server 2012 includes StreamInsight, a new tool that helps retailers to more easily harness multiple streams of data, and PowerPivot for Excel 2010.
Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 for Retail will be available in more than 25 countries starting Feb. 1, 2012.
In the video below, Brendan O'Meara, managing director for retail at Microsoft, provides a glimpse at some of the exciting products that are going to enable retailers to better engage their customers and operate more efficiently:
Also, Samsung SUR40 is now available for purchase through Samsung channel and reseller partners.
The SUR40 can be used as a table, a wall-mountable and/or vertical/horizontal kiosk and is both multiuser and multitouch. It features a 40-inch HD 1080p screen and is four inches thin (including the glass, PC and enclosure). The system runs an embedded version of 64-bit Windows 7 Professional. Microsoft introduced a software-development kit for the Surface 2.0 in July 2011. The SUR40 relies on PixelSense -- which uses the pixels of the screen itself to act as cameras to capture objects placed on the surface.
Its innovative design means retailers can choose horizontal and vertical deployments by simply attaching optional legs or a compatible VESA mount.
Samsung SUR40 for Microsoft Surface is currently available in 23 countries.
"Estimated Street Pricing (MAP) for U.S. customers starts at $8,400 USD for the device, and $9,049 USD for the device with matching stand," revealed microsoft.
Pricing in other countries and/or regions may differ. For more information or to find out how to order, call 1-866-SAM-4BIZ or visit samsunglfd.com/solution/sur40.do