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Microsoft Targets Mid-Market Retailers

In another move to solidify its position in the supply-chain management market for small-to medium-sized businesses (SMBs), Microsoft Corp. purchased retail software maker Sales Management Systems Inc. (SMS).

By adding Anaheim, Calif.-based SMS, Microsoft's Great Plains unit will beef up its offerings to SMBs by adding tools specifically geared to retailers. SMS makes QuickSell, a series of Web-enabled point-of-sale (POS) and retail-management software. The series consist of QuickSell Commerce, a Web-enabled POS application; QuickSell Commerce HQ, a back-office tool for retailers with multiple stores; and QuickSell 2000, an all-in-one management application for single stores.

The QuickSell products will be integrated with Microsoft Great Plains Dynamics and Small Business Manager applications in the third quarter domestically and next year internationally. Until then, they will continue to be sold as stand-alone products. Microsoft plans to integrate it with its .NET platform, giving retailers the ability to interact with suppliers and partners through its Web services.

"Small and mid-market retailers face a challenging economy, increasing competition and rising customer expectations. Market factors heighten the need for a comprehensive and connected retail solution," Satya Nadella, corporate vice president of Microsoft Great Plains Business Solutions, said in a statement. "The combination of Microsoft's technical leadership with SMS' award-winning QuickSell series will provide customers with increased operational efficiency gains such as multi-store inventory control and fast-transaction entry, resulting in a highly functional solution at a low total cost of ownership."

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The deal for SMS comes a month after Microsoft's most aggressive move into the business-applications mid-market, the $1.3 billion deal for European SMB-focused applications maker Navision. The Navision purchase was designed by Microsoft to provide a European counterpart to Great Plains, which Microsoft scooped up in a $1.1 billion deal in December 2000. The two companies now form Microsoft Great Plains Business Solutions.

Later this year, Microsoft will debut its much-talked-about customer relationship management product. In just a year and a half, Microsoft has used acquisitions to build up a sizeable mid-market resource-planning presence from scratch, threatening the long-held dominance of companies like SAP, PeopleSoft and Oracle.

Last week, Microsoft Great Plains rolled out Solomon IV Version 5.0, which features added functions for inventorying, sales, and accounting.