Microsoft Has Its Eye on Small Retailers - Page 2

"Many of these [smaller retailers] have run into a situation where theyve outgrown the system," OMeara said. "What you see in small-business POS is a lot of homegrown and a lot of very local types of applications," with a custom application that a small number of local businesses use. "Theyre often either dated or not that well-thought through in the first place."

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When a new operating system is brought into such systems, its no longer compatible with the device drivers of the new hardware, OMeara said. Instead of using that as a reason to stay with the older OS, Microsoft argued, this package replaces everything including the hardware and delivers compatibility that way.

Microsoft has also included functionality to make it easier for retailers to do e-commerce. Although the Web site creation is the retailers headache, the Microsoft package tackles the challenging data import/export issues. "This helps get the retailer a Web store that complements their retail store. [Right away] they will be able to process orders," OMeara said.

The rollout this month focuses even more narrowly, specifically trying to bring in customers from five vertical segments: beer-wine-liquor; apparel; sporting goods; gifts; and hobbies.

OMeara said Microsoft selected those segments because of their complicated inventory and CRM (customer relationship management) needs. In a clothing store, for example, a customer will purchase a shirt not only because it is red and long-sleeved, but it also has to be in the right size. Regardless of the talent of a salesperson, a very short customer cant be sold a shirt designed for a very tall customer. That places a significant stocking decision burden.

Retail Center Editor Evan Schuman can be reached at

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