Microsoft, Sun, IBM, And HP Make Retail Moves

The IT side of retailing held center stage Monday as companies ranging from Microsoft and IBM to Sun and HP laid out plans and products at the National Retailer Federation's trade show in New York. Microsoft led by unveiling what it calls its Smarter Retailing Initiative, a technology framework based on .Net technology and XML that it says will make it easier for companies to connect their legacy applications in the retail arena with their stores--and through Web services, their customers.

Microsoft said the initiative will focus on three key areas: shopping, selling, and operations. Microsoft hopes to make it easier for retailers to offer personalized shopping experiences to customers via devices such as cell phones, bring customer relationship management tools down to the level of the individual sales clerk, and jump-start wireless and RFID adoption in retail. Although the initiative relies on some proprietary technology, Microsoft said that the new strategy will also take into account retail-specific industry standards, such as IX Retail, OPOS, and UCCNet. Nearly two dozen companies joined Microsoft at the show to unveil support for the Smarter Retailing Initiative with new or revamped products. Among them, Accenture rolled out a series of RFID-based tools that take advantage of other Microsoft software to boost retail management and let customers sidestep checkout lines.

News source: Information Week

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