Software giant Microsoft is reaching out to the more than 3,300 companies exhibiting at MAGIC, and is partnering with the trade show to help peddle its Microsoft Business Solutions Retail Management System software.
Although Microsoft has dominated the word processing sector with popular software packages like Microsoft Office, it has yet to become the go-to name among small and midsize retailers looking to set up point-of-sale systems.
“It’s been a highly fragmented market and relatively underserved,” said Brendan O’Meara, general manager of retail management solutions at Microsoft. “It’s a category that we believe is just now about to boom, and MAGIC is one of the important industry associations where merchants attend, listen to, respect and look for recommendations on how to run their business.”
After acquiring the product from Sales Management Systems in 2002, Microsoft has been updating, building out and rebranding the software. It has seen 60 percent growth in sales in the last year alone, with about 20,000 installations nationwide. Apparel retailers account for one-quarter of the business. Among current users are Madison Carlsbad Village, based in Carlsbad, Calif., selling handbags, luggage, jewelry and accessories; the sports shops for the Golden State Warriors, based in Oakland, Calif., and Action Performance Cos., based in Concord, N.C., a retailer of racing collectibles and apparel, including NASCAR merchandise.
The category, which has previously been dominated by proprietary POS solutions such as electronic cash registers and PC-like cash registers, is now ripe for growth, said O’Meara.
“What’s changed is that PC economics have made it more cost-effective for smaller retailers,” he said.
According to O’Meara, retail software accounts for 10.8 percent of overall software spending in the U.S.; accounting software comes in second at about 8.5 percent. Microsoft data shows that small and medium-size retailers in the U.S. spent about $2.4 billion on packaged and custom software in 2003.
Unlike accounting software, however, retailers aren’t able to pick up a version of the POS software at a big national computer chain and be ready to ring up sales at their stores. The product, which will be available for sale and demonstrated at kiosks in the grand lobby at MAGIC, is sold only through Microsoft’s licensed partners and requires a fair amount of customization and handholding — at least initially. The price starts at $1,200 for the basic software. However, the typical installation price with software, hardware and setup included will run retailers an average of $5,000 to $6,000. More customization and additional store locations to service also drive up the cost.Mike Nicholson, vice president of Maryland-based POSitive Technology, one of the partners for the product and among Microsoft’s largest providers of retailer solutions, said the software is ideal for retailers with one to 100 stores.
“[This program] is not for the Victoria’s Secrets of the world or larger chains,” he said. “We’ve been able to take our expertise and bring it to small-to-midsize retailers.”
Although the product requires initial setup from one of Microsoft’s partners, once it’s up and running, sales assistants can learn to ring sales in about five minutes, according to Nicholson.
“We make the machine meet the users’ needs,” said Nicholoson, whose company helps set up cash registers for small mom-and-pop stores and big tourist attractions alike, as well as such high-volume sports franchises as NASCAR, which have limited time to train seasonal employees.
POSitive Technology will work with Microsoft in the Grand Lobby at MAGIC throughout the show to promote the new software and will offer a special to retailers: $189 a month to get started, which includes all hardware, software, installation and training. There will also be a drawing to give away one complete retail package.
This is not the first time technology and apparel have intersected at MAGIC. Online auction site eBay will partner with the trade show for the fifth time, and will have multiple kiosks and advertisements, as well as its own seminar series to promote its online store options for retailers.
“Some of the smaller companies are learning the importance of introducing technology into their stores,” said a spokeswoman for MAGIC International. “Their aim is to ease retailers onto the technological superhighway.”
How “super” retailers want to go is up to them. Microsoft’s program can be configured to operate on PC-based handhelds as a personal shopping tool, which sales assistants could use to check inventory as well as to ring up customers from anywhere in the store.
But the biggest advantage, said O’Meara, is really in harnessing customer information to help personalize the shopping experience, an advantage more nimble, smaller retailers have over the mega-chains.
“We’ve created it as a tool kit that enables [store owners] to leverage that strength,” O’Meara said. “They [can gather] preferences, purchase history and provide a higher level of service, whereas the larger national chains take a lot of time to roll out a new POS system.”And providing relevant industry resources to the smaller retailers is exactly what the partnership is designed to do. “This is an important first event to be working on together,” agreed O’Meara, who said he hopes to bring “awareness through a trusted adviser.”
“My personal philosophy to beauty is paying attention to oneself. I love to be outdoors, lots of fresh air, trying to take care of yourself as best you can. I always notice that comes through,” says Felicity Jones, the global face of @shiseido-owned @cledepeaubeauteus, which launches today. Head to WWD.com to read more about the actress’ love for beauty and how she prepared for her new role in “The Basis of Sex,” playing the young Ruth Bader Ginsburg. #wwdbeauty (📷: @dandoperalski)
For men’s fall 2018, @giuseppezanotti drew on elements from streetwear, sport, biker, combat and rock ‘n’ roll. Pictured here are a pair of shoes from the collection, featuring zippers, rhinestones, and silver hardware. Head to WWD.com to see a roundup of the accessories from Milan’s men’s fall 2018 shows. #wwdfashion (📷: Andrea Delb)
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of @ralphlauren’s snowboarding collection, the brand is mining its archives. The iconic brand is reintroducing vintage styles and dropping new designs for a color capsule that will be available in Ralph Lauren stores and @openingceremony on January 25. The capsule will consist of 10 pieces, including the Snow Beach Pullover, pictured here, which is a collector’s item that rapper Raekwon wore in Wu-Tang Clan’s “Can It Be All So Simple” video. #wwdfashion (📷: Tom Gould)
For @rochasofficial’s pre-fall 2018 collection, creative director Alessandro Dell’Acqua channeled the sophisticated and intriguing Catherine Denevue in the film “Belle de Jour.” Polished collarless coats, midi skirts, suits and ’60s graphic motifs were all featured in the collection, adding a sense of discreet luxury. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion
“We tried to produce clothing of that couture quality, but the most daunting part was that we only had a matter of days [to do it],” said costume designer Lou Eyrich, who recreated Gianni Versace’s iconic looks for @americancrimestoryfx. Eyrich searched online retailers and vintage shops for original pieces from the design house and for @penelopecruzoficial, who plays Donatella Versace. Head to WWD.com to read how she created the Versace world. #wwdfashion
Only three months after her stellar debut catwalk season, @kaiagerber has inked her first big design collaboration –– with @karllagerfeld. The collection blends Lagerfeld’s Parisian chic aesthetic and the model’s signature West Coast casual style via RTW, accessories, footwear and more. The #KarlLagerfeldxKaia collection will launch in September with a series of events. Get all the details on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
Harrods plans to remove the famous statue of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed from the bottom of the Egyptian escalators and hand it back to Mohamed Al-Fayed. “We are very proud to have played our role in celebrating the lives of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed at Harrods and to have welcomed people from around the world to visit the memorial for the past 20 years,” said Michael Ward, Harrods managing director. “With the announcement of the new official memorial statue to Diana, Princess of Wales at Kensington Palace, we feel that the time is right to return this memorial to Mr. Al Fayed and for the public to be invited to pay their respects at the palace.” More on the news, with reporting by @loreleimarfil, at WWD.com. #wwdnews