Rethink the top 5 retail challenges with Microsoft Dynamics 365

  • Posted on December 6, 2021
  • Estimated reading time 6 minutes
Rethink 5 retail challenges with MSFT Dynamics 365

The world of retail has undergone substantial change, brought about by evolving customer expectations and retail worker needs. Today’s customers interact with retail brands across a staggering number of online channels, in addition to browsing in stores or flipping through printed catalogs. They expect simplified checkout, real-time shipment tracking and enhanced customer service, as well as multiple options for rapid and seamless pickup or delivery. Retail workers must be able to provide exceptional customer service by quickly understanding customer history, preferences and interests.

Given these ever-changing expectations, what challenges do retail businesses need to overcome to deliver impactful retail experiences for customers and employees across multiple channels with fluidity and at scale?

Challenge #1: Realizing and exceeding the omnichannel expectation
Modern retail digital customer journeys contain numerous touchpoints and phases, with each utilizing specific actions, assets, marketing materials and customer service functions, often which run in parallel but not connected.

From the Orientation phase to the Loyalty phase, retail customers interact with a retail brand on dozens of different channels. Whether via social networks, digital ads, landing pages, eCommerce websites or email offers, customers expect brands to deliver consistent and personalized experiences. They want to shop on their terms, and brand loyalty can’t overcome inconvenience or misaligned messaging.

Solution: Build a Microsoft Dynamics 365 retail enterprise for a true omnichannel experience
Arm your employees with modern, connected, mobile-enabled solutions that provide 360-degree customer views, allowing workers to offer world-class customer service within and beyond the store. With Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Avanade’s Commerce offering, retail businesses can leverage a headless commerce engine1 to provide consistent experiences across physical and digital channels. Leverage out-of-the-box solutions for unified commerce, omnichannel fulfillment, endless aisle, unified customer views and personalized digital marketing initiatives. Ensure your retail customers can purchase and receive their products the way they want, whether in-store, curbside or via at-home delivery.

Challenge #2: Delivering personalized retail experiences at scale
Retail customers have more shopping options now than ever before. Customer preference for convenience is strong enough to overcome brand loyalty, and customers who cannot shop the way they want will look elsewhere. From ad placement to delivery and pickup options, retail businesses must meet the customer where they are. Customers demand intuitive, engaging and informative solutions that make the shopping experience fun and rewarding.

Solution: Create the ultimate customer experience
Retail businesses should strive to deliver seamless, comprehensive and personalized shopping experiences attuned to each customer. Microsoft Dynamics 365 provides customer engagement capabilities across store operations, channel management, order management, marketing, customer care and business intelligence. In addition, it provides back-office capabilities such as procurement, financials and end-to-end retail management with full visibility across the entire business. With Microsoft Dynamics 365, these features can be implemented as a comprehensive solution or as individual functions to augment existing retail capabilities, enabling retailers to chart an ideal path that aligns to their customer needs.

Challenge #3: Empowering employees to provide instant customer service
With the internet at their fingertips, customers are accustomed to getting their questions answered instantly. The same expectations apply to the retail shopping experience. It is critical for modern retail organizations to maintain a knowledge base of key information that is accessible at a moment’s notice to any front-line worker.

Solution: Enhance digital employee experiences
Using Avanade’s approach to Microsoft Dynamics 365 Commerce, retail businesses can provide their front-line workers with modern out-of-the-box point of sale (POS) solutions to ensure they have comprehensive customer data such as sales history, transaction details and wish lists. Empower retail front-line workers with rich customer information to provide customer-centric selling at the right time on any device, leading to better customer assistance, enhanced recommendations and connected, contextual experiences.

Challenge #4: Achieving real-time retail
Customers expect multiple options for pickup and delivery of their purchases. Some want the fastest possible home delivery, while others prefer to buy online and pick up their products in-store or curbside. Customers who cannot access local availability information or accurate shipping times are more likely to pick another vendor that does provide them. Therefore, retail businesses must have a streamlined retail platform with real-time visibility into store inventory, product availability forecasting and enhanced logistics to ensure products end up where they’re needed, when they’re wanted.

Solution: Streamline retail operations
Optimize your retail operations with Microsoft Dynamics 365 Realtime Store Inventory, ensuring customers gain real-time inventory availability and order tracking. Through Microsoft Dynamics 365’s enhanced supply chain and logistics, retailers have a real-time view of their organization, products and processes to manage inventory logistics and provide more efficient customer service across product replenishment, order management and warehouse and transportation logistics. This enables retail customers transparency to purchase and receive products based on their preferences, geography and schedules by leveraging multi-store integrated inventory views and logistics. Further, improve customer loyalty through promotions, gift cards and more through Dynamics 365 headless commerce services.

Challenge #5: Harnessing untapped, siloed data
Traditionally, retailers had to make broad-stroke estimations regarding marketing, customer preferences and product design decisions, but modern customers practically scream their preferences digitally. However, much of that information is hidden within layers of untapped, often siloed data that is inaccessible to key roles within the retail organization, preventing organizations from transforming data into actionable insights that can generate impactful and differentiated retail experiences for customers.

Solution: Intelligent and connected retail
With Avanade and Microsoft Dynamics 365, retail organizations can unify, enrich, unlock and enable the use of data across the enterprise. Retail leaders and retail marketing teams can leverage comprehensive integrated data to optimize retail operations. Through the Microsoft Common Data Model, retail organizations can bring together data from multiple systems and applications. The Common Data Model simplifies and accelerates large-scale data processing by providing a shared data language for business and analytics applications. This means the front and back offices can leverage the same unified data across CRM, ERP and Digital Marketing to better understand opportunities for innovation and customer success. Enabling this data to supplement channel interactions for front-line workers improves the context they bring to the customer’s face-to-face experience and more opportunities to isatisfy needs.

Read how Avanade leveraged Microsoft Dynamics 365 to help Seattle Goodwill provide enhanced retail customer experiences and empower front-line retail workers.

Why Avanade and Microsoft Dynamics 365
Modern ERP is redefining the way retail companies operate in the digital age, and at the heart of every organization is the workforce that makes things happen. With rich industry and technology expertise, Avanade has been recognized by several independent research firms as a leader for Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Power Platform services. And we can help retailers empower their employees with data insights and collaborative ways to make smarter decisions, drive business performance and be the delivery point for exceptional customer experiences.

Looking to accelerate your journey? Join us at NRF, National Retail Federation’s Big Show, in January and be on the lookout for more of our guidance to help you rethink ERP and beyond.

1An e-commerce platform where the front-end system is separate from the back-end system, allowing for enhanced customer experiences on the front-end without impacting the back-end infrastructure.

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