Microsoft Cloud for Retail: adding more to the B2B e-commerce story

Microsoft is scheduled to add B2B e-commerce functions for Dynamics 365 Commerce, the company’s central business application for retailers. The company has announced the launch of its Microsoft Cloud for Retail, which will be a set of functions spanning the company’s productivity and business applications, Microsoft Advertising, and cloud services.

The announcements come as Microsoft ramps up its presence for NRF 2021 BIG Show virtual event. The event is an online version of what has been a key expo for retail industry tech vendors for a long time.

Cloud for Retail: Merging retail industry offerings

According to the company, Microsoft Cloud for Retail will be an “industry-specific cloud” that has as its aim to give retailers the capability to call on many of Microsoft’s products and services.

Towards the end of 2020 Microsoft also launched another industry cloud, namely the Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare.

This offering is currently in private preview and it includes Dynamics 365, Microsoft 365, Microsoft Azure, Power Platform, and Microsoft Advertising.

They haven’t revealed many specific details about the offering, just that it aims to help retailers “connect experiences” across the customer journey, bringing together disparate sources of data, and “[turn] data into actionable insights.”

A business that embraces Cloud for Retail will have the flexibility to adopt the elements they most need at any time. Microsoft have also noted that their partner ecosystem will be expected to take part in delivering solutions built on the retail cloud.

Dynamics 365 Commerce: B2B E-commerce aim

The new B2B E-commerce functionalities entered public preview yesterday, according to Alysa Taylor (Microsoft corporate vice president). She made the reveal in a blog post and Microsoft have also launched a video revealing further details. Improved order entry for buyers is one of the differentiated B2B capabilities.

The B2B capabilities “[build] on our consumer capabilities and [bring] together B2B and B2C commerce” for consistent and personalized purchasing options, according to a spokesperson. Some examples, they said, will include:

  • Tools to improve B2B account relations and partner management tools
  • Self-service purchasing
  • Intelligent capabilities for distributed order management and merchandising
  • Account-based promotions
  • Shared ratings and reviews
  • Cross channel asset management
  • AI & ML-driven product recommendations and accessibility insights

Taylor touted Dynamics 365 Commerce as “a single, holistic retail and commerce platform” that integrates well with other Dynamics 365 solutions including Sales, Customer Service, Supply Chain Management, Customer Insights (Microsoft’s CDP), and Fraud Protection.

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