What the new commerce experience for Cloud Solution Provider partners means for Microsoft 365 clients

Close up of a person's hands typing on a laptop with a glowing blue cloud hovering over it.Albert Einstein once said, “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” To continue delivering optimal customer and partner experiences in a rapidly changing world, Microsoft is doing just that. Late last year, as part of its digital transformation journey, the tech giant deployed a technical preview of a set of seat-based offers in the new commerce experience (NCE) in the Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program.

By migrating seat-based online services (including Microsoft 365Windows 365, Power Platform, and Dynamics 365) to the new commerce experience, the supplier aims to streamline the purchasing process for its partners and make it easier for them to meet a wide range of customer needs while simplifying sales.

The new commerce experience for seat-based offers moved to general availability in January 2022. After March 10, 2022, Microsoft will require that all new subscription orders related to seat-based solutions and offers sold by CSPs occur exclusively via the NCE. However, the supplier will still permit subscription renewal on the legacy platform through June 30, 2022.

If your business relies on Microsoft 365 or another seat-based online solution from the supplier, you might wonder what this transition means for your organization. Here’s an overview of the new commerce experience for seat-based products for the CSP program and the impact it will have on clients like you.

What is the new commerce experience and why is Microsoft implementing it?

With the multi-phase implementation of the new commerce experience, Microsoft is revamping transactions with its clients through the CSP program. The supplier initially launched the NCE in 2019 in the CSP program for Azure reserved instances, Server Subscriptions, and Azure plans.

2019 blog entry addressed to partners explains, “Microsoft is evolving its commerce platform to streamline the customer experience and enable partners to broaden their influence and further help customers to digitally transform—regardless of where the customer is in their journey or how they decide to transact with Microsoft.”

The new set of commercial priced offers for seat-based online services is the latest phase of implementation for the new experience. In conjunction with the migration of seat-based solutions, Microsoft is also deploying new functionalities and capabilities for CSPs to better meet partner and customer needs. The latest release will lay the foundation for overhauling the sales process and empowering partner expansion.

How does it differ from the legacy Cloud Solution Provider experience?

The NCE differs from the current/legacy CSP experience in many ways. Here are some of the updates and new capabilities Microsoft is implementing to benefit partners and customers. Note: This is not an exhaustive list.

    • Updated cancellation policy. Partners can cancel an order with a prorated refund within the first 72 hours (based on UTC regardless of time zone).
    • Monthly subscriptions at a premium. For clients that prefer not to commit to longer terms, monthly subscriptions for license-based offers will be available at a 20 percent premium price compared to the cost of annual subscriptions. Note: To encourage adoption of the NCE, Microsoft has announced that the 20 percent higher price for monthly subscriptions versus annual won’t take effect until after June 30, 2022. Additionally, the supplier will provide a 5 percent discount on annual-term offers for commercial seat-based online services through March 2022.
    • Annual payment for multi-year plans. In the new experience, partners can be billed annually for multi-year plans instead of paying upfront or monthly. This allows for adjustment in line with a broader range of customer payment preferences.
    • Monthly Windows 365 plans. Subscriptions for this product will be available exclusively on a monthly basis (compared to annual term only in the legacy experience).
    • Add-ons sold separately. Instead of add-ons being sold exclusively with base SKUs from the same partner, in the new experience, add-ons are discoverable in the CSP catalog, and customers can purchase them if they’ve bought the necessary subscriptions from other channels or partners. This gives partners and customers more flexibility.
    • Pay-as-you-go telco options. The legacy experience requires customers to buy communication credits from Microsoft if they need more than the per-license limit for minutes per month (typically 120 per license). The NCE allows partners to purchase offers with overage features that will automatically bill the client when their users utilize extra minutes.

Overall, the new commerce experience for Microsoft 365 and other seat-based online services gives customers more options with premium-priced monthly terms, separately available add-ons, pay-as-you-go communications and more.

If you have any questions about the NCE and what it will mean for your business, don’t hesitate to contact our team. Get in touch with us today by calling 877-599-3999 or emailing sales@stratospherenetworks.com.

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