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Microsoft blends point-of-sale, ERP components in retail software

Microsoft has put together its point-of-sale front end and ERP back end in one solution for midmarket retailers.

Microsoft Business Solutions (MBS) is trying to streamline its retail software offerings by combining its front-end and back-end solutions.

The new Dynamics for Retail Solution integrates the Microsoft Dynamics AX core enterprise resource planning (ERP) system with the Dynamics Retail Management System, according to Michael Griffiths, Microsoft's group product manager.

The combo promises to span point-of-sale (POS) software running in the stores to the supply chain management at headquarters.

The POS software piece comes out of Microsoft's acquisition of Sales Management Systems in 2002.

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The new combination, announced this week at the National Retail Federation show, will eliminate the need for MBS partners to write the connective-tissue software between the ERP and retail components, said Mike Nicholson, chief operating officer of POSitive Technology, a Germantown, Md.-based Microsoft partner specializing in retail software.

"The difference here is seeing all of the pieces work as one. We don't have to do a lot of the integration bridges," he said.

Microsoft focused on Dynamics AX -- formerly known as Axapta -- as the back end for this midmarket product, although Nicholson said many of his customers use the POS software against Great Plains (Dynamics GP) ERP systems. He said Microsoft has already done some SMS-GP integration work itself.

The idea of this new point-of-sale software offering is to provide a "fully integrated, end-to-end retail solution that ensures that data mapping and translation flows through from the store to the supply chain," Griffiths said.

The news was pegged to the National Retail Federation convention in New York this week. Microsoft will also talk up the use of its new retail software product by the Dallas Cowboys' merchandising operations. "This is a very sophisticated retail operation with 29 businesses consolidating on a single technology platform," Griffiths said.

Two partners, POSitive Technology and Columbus IT, are working on this implementation, Griffiths said.

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