Microsoft Announces Dynamics AX for Retail

Microsoft Dynamics AX for Retail is a solution that collects and integrates data from across a midsize retailer's operations chain. Since introducing Microsoft Dynamics AX in June 2008, Microsoft has integrated new features, including an Environmental Sustainability Dashboard, and acquired new technologies to make the platform more robust.

Microsoft announced its Dynamics AX for Retail, an end-to-end solution for midsize retailers, during the National Retail Federation Annual Convention & Expo in New York on Jan. 11.

The platform, which will be available starting this summer, distills integrated data from a retail operations chain, including point of sale, store management, supply chain, merchandising and financials. It also supports Payment Service, which allows payment transactions to be processed from the Microsoft Dynamics ERP interface across channels such as point-of-sale and e-commerce sites. Channel partners can configure the solution, which is scalable, to fit the needs of specific businesses.

The solution will also support online services for retailers, including Commerce Service, which links Microsoft Dynamics ERP to e-commerce functionality such as business-to-consumer e-commerce marketplaces, dedicated online storefronts and electronic shopping carts.

Since releasing Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 in June 2008, Microsoft has steadily integrated new layers of features onto the platform. Originally intended to provide SMBs (small to medium-sized businesses) with the ability to integrate financial and supply-chain data from decentralized offices spread across multiple geographic locations, Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 included technology from Microsoft Business Intelligence, designed to raise flags over changes in business conditions such as slower sales or inventory backup.

Newer features include an Environmental Sustainability Dashboard for Microsoft Dynamics AX, launched in February 2009, which assists executives and IT administrators in monitoring energy costs, gas emissions and other carbon-footprint contributors.

And in September 2009, Microsoft acquired four "industry solutions" with plans to integrate them into Microsoft Dynamics AX, including one for integrating processes across discrete and process manufacturing, and one that delivered a single system for managing projects and executing financial transactions. The other two acquisitions provided "end-to-end retail solutions," including store management with point-of-sale, merchandising and ERP capabilities.

In a Jan. 11 statement, Microsoft said, "Microsoft Dynamics AX for Retail consists of recently acquired technology and the enterprise resource planning capabilities of Microsoft Dynamics AX," suggesting that at least a percentage of the platform's retail-facing functionality is indeed due to this earlier acquisition of industry solutions.