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January 12, 2004
Accenture and Microsoft Offer Technology Solutions for Smarter Retailing Initiative

New Tools, RFID-Technologies Help Improve Sales, Enhance Retail Operations, Differentiate Customer Experience

NATIONAL RETAIL FEDERATION, NEW YORK; Jan. 12, 2004 – Accenture and Microsoft today announced the availability of several new solutions and radio frequency identification- (RFID) based technologies designed to help retailers improve the way they operate their stores and sell to consumers.

These solutions are part of Microsoft’s Smarter Retailing Initiative announced today at the National Retail Federation in New York. The Smarter Retailing initiative is designed to help improve a customer’s in-store experience with information tailored to enhance purchasing decisions.

“Creating a differentiated shopping experience is crucial to attracting today’s shoppers, who are more demanding and less brand loyal but are willing to spend when they perceive value in a product or service,” said Jeff Smith, managing partner, Accenture Retail & Consumer Goods practice. “To attract and keep those shoppers, retailers must use customer information to differentiate themselves from competitors. With Microsoft, we are helping retailers gather more accurate information about customer preferences, use it effectively and create better relationships between their brands and their customers.”

Accenture worked with Microsoft to develop the strategy for the new Smarter Retailing initiative. In addition, Accenture developed a set of tools, which will help retailers achieve the following:

  • Increase sales and margin:Among the tools is a Shopping Cart Assistant that allows shoppers to scan and pay for items as they are selected, bypassing checkout lines. This technology, which runs on a TabletPC using Windows® XP Embedded, can help a retailer predict a customer’s shopping list and offer discounts and coupons tailored to the individual shopper.

  • Increase overall manager and employee productivity, minimize out-of-stock items and address other inventory challenges:A Store Manager Workbench gives managers instant access to information on inventory, employee schedules and sales data through a TabletPC or personal digital assistant that leverages Microsoft Office System products, including Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server 2003. Increasing the mobility of managers means they can be on the store floor helping employees and customers.

  • Deploy solutions quickly:Through a set of architectural and design frameworks, retailers can reduce the time necessary to develop store-based technology solutions, diminish the complexity of store applications development projects and simplify application maintenance to lower costs. This framework was developed through Avanade, a company created by Accenture and Microsoft.

Microsoft-based RFID – or “silent commerce” – applications imbedded throughout the retailer’s operations, such as at the dock door and on shelving units, can decrease errors in inventory handling, improve inventory and receiving accuracy and speed while reducing labor expense.

“Microsoft’s Smarter Retailing Initiative flows from our belief that there are many opportunities for innovation in the retail industry today, but they primarily lie on the edges, where retailers interact with consumers, manage their supply chains or weave in new technologies, such as digital assistants and self-checkout terminals,” said Brian Scott, Microsoft’s general manager for the Retail & Hospitality Industry Group.

Accenture and Microsoft will continue to develop joint solutions focused on customer insight and store operations to support the Smarter Retailing Initiative.

About Accenture
Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company. Committed to delivering innovation, Accenture collaborates with its clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. With deep industry and business process expertise, broad global resources and a proven track record, Accenture can mobilize the right people, skills, and technologies to help clients improve their performance. With more than 83,000 people in 48 countries, the company generated net revenues of US$11.8 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2003. Its home page is www.accenture.com.

About Microsoft
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software – any time, any place and on any device.

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