What is Dynamics for Retail and How Does it Stand Out From The Competition? Interview with Michael Griffiths Part 1

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Michael-Griffiths Michael Griffiths is a proven retail industry expert with a solid track record of driving both product management and marketing for technology industry leaders.  Griffiths brings more than a decade of experience to his role as Global Managing Director, Retail and Distribution for Microsoft Business Solutions.

While attending Convergence 2013, I had the opportunity to interview Michael. We spoke at length about Dynamics for Retail, what it is, how much it costs and who should use it. Michael also gave his insights about the retail industry: the challenges, the pain points and the success stories. Because it was an extensive interview, and because I don’t want you to miss any of the interesting details that we discussed, I’ve broken my report into a series of 5 posts. This is part 1:

ERP Software Blog Editor: What is Dynamics for Retail? Is it Dynamics AX?

Michael Griffiths:  Four years ago we launched Dynamics for Retail and at the time we did call it AX for Retail; but the functionality now expands beyond the scope of Dynamics AX and pulls in so many Microsoft technologies. We now are calling it Dynamics for Retail. And it really is in line with what you hear from Kirill about this unifying fabric that the solution is meant to be: an end to end Omni Channel Retail Solution.

Editor:  Why is Dynamics for Retail unique?

Griffiths: Dynamics for Retail is unique because it was built from the ground up by Microsoft with all the components working together.   Dynamics AX is definitely a part of that and provides great financial, supply chain industry capability, merchandising, and Point of Sale. The POS is deployed at the stores, which is its own application, but it is fully integrated to Dynamics AX. We've actually put out four major releases in the market in the last four years and we've added things like eCommerce.  So we have a fully integrated web storefront, mobile handheld POS, and Windows Mobile 8 capabilities that really pull in some of those technologies.  When you think about what Omni Channel means for a retailer, having visibility and transparency whether it's a brick-and-mortar store or it's their online website or Facebook or Twitter, we now have a solution that really can span across all those different customer touch points.

Editor: Are you downplaying the Dynamics AX piece of the Dynamics for Retail solution? 

Griffiths: I wouldn't say downplaying.  I think the power of Dynamics AX is that it can be a great industry solution across retail distribution, public sector and manufacturing.  It provides enterprise class financials.  But for a retailer,  there are so many scenarios that involve point of sale and ecommerce and all these additional Microsoft technologies that we wanted to really make sure the market understood that this a holistic retail solution.  Dynamics AX is a fundamental core strength of that. But then so is SharePoint for ecommerce, and so is Windows Mobile 8 for our handheld POS. And there are all these Microsoft technologies that are playing a key part in what we have to offer.  So, Dynamics for Retail gives us a way to talk about the solution more holistically, because for us it's about the industry, not just a product.

Editor: Has Dynamics for Retail replaced the older Microsoft Retail Management System (RMS)?

Griffiths: We've had RMS in the market for about ten years and we have a great install base of customers. We've got a roadmap of new innovation and new capabilities that are coming for them, and we plan to leverage the Dynamics for Retail capabilities and technology to take those customers forward as well.  So we use that basic set of capabilities and then that way we'll have a consistent roadmap and consistent solution portfolio for all of our customers.”

Editor: What are some ways to differentiate Dynamics for Retail from competing products?

Griffiths: First, it’s a solution that many customers are adopting because they don’t need to deploy all of it at once. They can deploy things like Omni Channel order management, which is what Carrefour is doing.  Or if you're someone like Mark Jacobs or Mattress Firm, you're deploying everything end to end because you're at that place in time. So we give you the power of choice.

Second, we have the most widely available global end to end solution in the world today.  We've done that deliberately because so many companies are looking to expand into new markets, whether it's China, Russia, India, Brazil, or they just don't want limitations as to where the technology can take them.

Third, we deliver the world's only true Omni Channel solution built from the ground up as opposed to the route of acquisition and pieces that weren't really built to work together.  What you see with a lot of vendors is they'll acquire a point-of-sale system, they'll acquire a merchandizing capability, but then the code bases were never built to work together and they leave it to the customer to figure out how to tie these things together.   With Microsoft, the same R&D team builds all these components and localizes them. That is why Sephora has chosen to use our solution in Brazil, or Michael Kors in China, or Bombay Dyeing in India.

Fourth, it’s about providing the whole modern customer experience. That is the reason why some of the larger fashion houses like Mark Jacobs are now going to roll this solution across the entire world. Again it’s really about creating the customer experience that retailers need.  We had a great session this morning (at Convergence 2013) outlining statistics about how consumers shop, the expectations they have, the devices and the access to information that now drives their behaviors. And while the consumer technology has taken great leaps forward, the same is not true on business applications;  they're very old, archaic.  They're very rigid, and retailers find themselves at a disadvantage:  ‘how do I provide immediate information about this inventory item that may not be in the store?  How can I know the customer and their purchase history and their wish lists and really have a more personal engagement?’

So with Microsoft we've built our solution on a modern architecture with those things in mind.  And that's why I think you see a lot of companies, where the brand is critical for them, really asking: “what technology will take me forward for the next 10 or 15 years?”  They don’t want a solution that was built for the problems of 20 years ago.

This ends Part 1 of the Interview with Michael Griffiths. Stay tuned for Part 2.

Read more about Dynamics for Retail: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics/retail.aspx

By Anya Ciecierski, ERP Software Blog Editor, www.erpsoftwareblog.com

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