The power of CDPs: building customer trust and loyalty in retail

The power of CDPs: building customer trust and loyalty in retail

This article is contributed. See the original author and article here.

Truly engaged, always connected

The events of 2020 have left a lasting impact on the retail industry and retailers are fueling rapid innovation with development and rollout of new technologies. The global pandemic has shifted how customers buy, as well as renewed recognition of the critical value of technology to customers. Convenience, flexibility, and personalization will continue to dominate customer choices. The retailers who continue to thrive will be those that let customers engage on their terms while simultaneously connecting with customers in more meaningful ways.

Retailers today are collecting data from every customer interactionfrom websites and apps to helpdesk chats and support calls, to physical store visits. But is all the data really being utilized and what is the impact on customer relationships? The ability to deliver a personalized customer experience relies heavily on a retailer’s customer understanding. This is where customer data platforms (CDP) can help retailers gain a holistic view of customers, deepen relationships, and build ongoing trust with the customers who are vital to their bottom line.

Read additional details about how Microsoft Dynamics 365 is reimagining retail in our recent blog, “NRF 2021: enabling retailers to reimagine the road ahead with Microsoft Business Applications.”

Customers demand and respond to personalized experiences

Customers today expect personalization from the organizations they interact with. According to Forrester, 80 percent of U.S. online users feel comfortable sharing some personal information with retailers in order to personalize their experience. Every customer is unique and has a unique path to purchase, and personalization helps retailers guide customers on the right path based on their needs and behaviors. CDPs provide the crucial foundation for enabling personalized customer interactions by bringing together transactional, behavioral, and demographic data from across channels to create multidimensional customer profiles. They enable activation on realtime insights across the customer journey and on destinations including analytics, marketing, advertising, and engagement platforms.

Customers reward businesses they trust

While virtually every interaction is being tracked, nearly 67 percent of customers have little to no understanding about how their data is being used by companies, according to Microsoft research in partnership with iProspect. This is an opportunity for retailers by showing transparency and showcasing the value they can provide in exchange for dataorganizations can ultimately earn customers’ trust and loyalty.

How it’s done

A number of organizations have found unique ways to combine deep customer understanding with innovative experiences to achieve growth and set themselves apart from the competition. One such organization is Chipotle Mexican Grill, a chain of more than 2,700 restaurants with multiple sources of customer data including a loyalty program, point-of-sale data, a customer care center, and digital platforms. They turned to Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Insights to unify data and better understand their customers.

Getting personal, at scale

Chipotle has millions of customers each year across its thousands of locations, but with Dynamics 365 Customer Insights the company has a deep understanding of individual customer preferences. They now know whether customers typically order for lunch or dinner, what their favorite meals are and which channel they use to make their purchase. These insights have allowed Chipotle to target customers with promotions and messages that appeal to them.

Using the map, match, and merge logic at the heart of Dynamics 365 Customer Insights, Chipotle can standardize and reconcile conflicting data and then set up business rules and act on them. The result is unified profiles with detailed views of each guest. Chipotle also uses Dynamics 365 Customer Insights to grow its customer base by converting more guests into loyalty program members. Using rich demographic data, they were able to gain insights on guests who made purchases but weren’t members of their loyalty program, which added up to 30 percent more unified customer profiles.

“Every customer is different. Customer Insights allows us to understand each customer’s differences and market to them as a unique individual.”Sashi Kommineni, Director of Enterprise Analytics, Chipotle Mexican Grill

The ability to personalize has been particularly important during the COVID-19 pandemic, as many customers have become hesitant to visit restaurants. Dynamics 36 Customer Insights helped Chipotle understand customer concerns and provide appropriate messaging, such as information about delivery and pick-up options. Though this highly specific targeting, Chipotle was able to increase conversations and use of these services.

Take the next step

By leveraging customer data to provide elevated, personalized experiences, retailers can build lasting relationships with customers, increase brand trust, and grow customer loyalty.

Dynamics 365 Customer Insights is a secure and flexible customer data platform with built-in AI to unify customer data and generate insights that power personalized experiences. Using prebuilt connectors, the solution brings together first- and third-party data sources including interactions with the web, mobile apps, and connected products. Dynamics 365 Customer Insights proactively identifies segments and generates predictive insights such as churn rates, lifetime value, and recommended products. Real-time integration with business applications and business processes ensure that marketing, sales, and service efforts are tailored for each customer. Brands see results faster with Dynamics 365 Customer Insights, an intuitive and ready-to-go customer data platform that requires minimal training and IT assistance.

Take a guided tour to see how your organization can use Dynamics 365 Customer Insights to unlock insights and drive personalized customer experiences, and learn more about our Microsoft Dynamics 365 Retail offerings.

The post The power of CDPs: building customer trust and loyalty in retail appeared first on Microsoft Dynamics 365 Blog.

Brought to you by Dr. Ware, Microsoft Office 365 Silver Partner, Charleston SC.

Enable a new level of B2B digital sales excellence with Dynamics 365 Commerce

Enable a new level of B2B digital sales excellence with Dynamics 365 Commerce

This article is contributed. See the original author and article here.

Truly engaged, always connected

At this year’s NRF, many retailers are taking the time to reflect on the learnings from 2020 and the road ahead for 2021. It’s hard to believe that only 12 months have passed since we disclosed the general availability of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Commerce, which was the evolution of our proven Microsoft Dynamics 365 Retail offering, that expanded our capabilities beyond physical stores and call centers to digital commerce that enables retailers and consumer-facing businesses to meet customer demands on their terms. A recent study by Forrester commissioned by Microsoft revealed that 83 percent of retail and CPG decision makers agree that delivering a connected and unified experience to customers is vital to business success and that the key to creating those experiences lies with digital commerce.

To further enable organizations to expand their digital commerce experiences, this year we are announcing the preview of B2B e-commerce capabilities for Dynamics 365 Commerce. By bringing together B2C and B2B e-commerce capabilities onto a single unified retail and commerce platform, companies can enable feature rich and user-friendly experiences for both consumer and business customers. Built natively on an intelligent and connected platform, organizations can save time and money through streamlining the buyer’s journey and enabling curated and relevant purchasing experiences for both consumers and business partners alike.

Looking back on 2020

We could never have imagined that only months after announcing our release of Dynamics 365 Commerce in 2020, retailers would be faced with one of the largest business challenges in recent history with the onset of the pandemic. As retail businesses pivoted to meet the new reality of global lockdown and contactless shopping, Dynamics 365 Commerce was there to help enable new forms of product fulfillment and ensure businesses could deliver on safe and secure purchasing experiences for their customers and store agents.

Companies like Michael Hill have utilized Dynamics 365 Commerce to expand on their existing capabilities even amidst the pandemic to continue to deliver exceptional services and new loyalty and fulfilment options for their clientele.

“We are now moving to fortnightly release cycles with our cloud ERP, including changes deployed to all Retail Stores. Pre-Christmas we turned on curbside pickup and we are now expanding our Ship From Store model on the platform. Our agility is continuously pushed by our strategy & innovation team as Retail is a completely different world now compared with pre-pandemic”Matt Keays, Chief Information Officer, Michael Hill

Columbia Sportswear is another great example of a business utilizing technology to quickly pivot their in-store purchasing experiences to deliver contactless and safe shopping environments for their customers to deliver contactless and safe shopping environments for their customers.

In addition to this we saw a dramatic surge of activity in digital commerce to help meet growing digital customer demand. We worked with several retailers like Ste Michelle Wine Estates to transition traditional in-person sales to online experiences through curated digital customer engagements. Citt Design also worked with Microsoft amidst lockdowns to builda new e-commerce site for their customers with Dynamics 365 Commerce, thereby enablingthe company to create richer digital customer experiences and respond faster to changing market conditions amidst the pandemic.

With Dynamics 365, we can create a rich storytelling experience for customers that reflects the quality and value of our products. As we launch our brand globally, we want to be seen as a designer of quality goods that people want to keep for life, and we use Dynamics 365 to help tell that story.Emmett Vallender, Chief Operating Officer, Citt

The changing nature of B2B commerce

With more millennials entering buyer positions in companies, expectations are also shifting away from traditional methods of B2B sales and more towards self-service options and personalized digital engagements. Tech savvy buyers are gravitating more toward digital platforms for easy access of relevant information along with quick purchasing options and they expect their B2B purchasing experiences to reflect that of B2C e-commerce. In addition, many businesses are realizing the value of enabling B2B buyers to access purchasing options directly from the web, thereby saving time and money with a reduced dependency of in-person sales and the ability to scale to a wider range of business partners. Customers like Kent Watersports are working with Microsoft to deploy B2B capabilities for Dynamics 365 in their business for just these reasons.

“Our business customers want to be able to connect to our site and place their orders themselves. Historically, they were sharing Excel spreadsheets or calling a sales rep. We really appreciate the ability of the buyer to place the order electronically. It saves us a lot of time, and in fact it’s a better experience for the customers, and the sales reps, to actually be using our B2B e-commerce solution.”Rhett Thompson, Director of IT, Kent Watersports

What we are bringing to B2B e-commerce

An e-commerce page with Fabrikam Business header and Special offer banner at the top. Product images are showcased with headers of

Traditional companies in the market tend to separate out B2B and B2C commerce solutions. This has led to businesses having replicated data, digital assets, and relevant messaging if they operate across both B2B and B2C. This has also resulted in a lack of innovation in the B2B e-commerce space driven by traditional perceptions around the B2B buyer journey. With younger and tech savvy buyers now commonplace in the market, we must look beyond what has traditionally been available for B2B e-commerce and enable smarter and more intuitive buying experiences for users. This is what we set out to do with Dynamics 365 Commerce. By bringing the innovative and intelligent features of B2C to B2B e-commerce, companies can deliver curated and relevant content to their buyers and build richer B2B account relations. This includes activating capabilities like a responsive and modular UX, intelligent and AI-powered recommendations, context aware and immersive product search, shared ratings and reviews, cross channel asset management, distributed order management, and merchandising capabilities into the buyers digital purchasing experience.

Business e-commerce home page for a company name Fabrikam with a beautiful picture of woods with words describing how to becomes a become a business partner, along with an image below it of a hand browsing through a selection of mens shirt with a title stating how businesses can sell Frabikam products in their stores

We are also enabling B2B relevant capabilities for modern businesses, including flexible partner management and onboarding tools to reach partners directly online. Dynamics 365 Commerce allows for quick and easy management of account access along with user rights for spending limits and administration permissions. Streamlining the order process is made simpler with order templates allowing for curated and simplified self-service ordering options. Business partner accounts can see relevant discounts and spot promotions, or runout offers where relevant. Grid-based order entry allows for quick and efficient order placement with clear visibility of stock and order thresholds, supported with account-based payment options for quick order approval.

Image displaying the checkout screen for a business order including shipping details, payment method and order summary.

We are extending self-service beyond order placement, with a range of administrative tools for business partners to quickly access account details including order history, account statements, invoice documentation, and more. Combined with native integration to Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales and Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Service, Dynamics 365 Commerce delivers a robust set of tools to empower your sales and service agents to get deeper engagement with customers and allows them to capitalize on every sales opportunity. Ensure rapid response to customer service enquiries with commerce chatthrough Microsoft Power Virtual Agents.Utilize the customer data platform to gain a wholistic view of your customers with Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Insights along with delivering rich visualization ofyour business operations and sales reporting with Microsoft Power BI. Finally, empower your employees to reinvent traditionally manual processes with no-code or low-code capabilities of Microsoft PowerApps. All seamlessly integrated and supported in Dynamics 365 Commerce.

Learn more

Dynamics 365 Commerce delivers a comprehensive, yet composable, set of capabilities for both consumer and business-facing organizations seeking to expand beyond traditional digital commerce limitations and improve customer engagement, build brand awareness, streamline purchasing, and deliver exceptional customer experiences.

To learn more about Dynamics 365 Commerce:

The post Enable a new level of B2B digital sales excellence with Dynamics 365 Commerce appeared first on Microsoft Dynamics 365 Blog.

Brought to you by Dr. Ware, Microsoft Office 365 Silver Partner, Charleston SC.

The power of CDPs: building customer trust and loyalty in retail

Optimize fraud control with scenario segmentation in Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection

This article is contributed. See the original author and article here.

To protect your business in today’s rapidly evolving fraud landscape, it’s critical to incorporate the use of both rules and machine learning. Machine learning can quickly detect new and emerging fraud patterns, and output a risk score to indicate the probability of fraud for a particular event. Rules can then use that risk score to automate decisions, enabling you to control the level of risk that’s right for a particular scenario. So how do you write an effective rule set selecting just the right amount of risk to minimize fraud as well as false positives?

While it may be tempting to set a singular risk threshold for your entire business, this “one size fits all” approach can result in significant fraud loss or unnecessary friction for good users. Instead, we recommend dividing your business into meaningful segments, and setting custom risk thresholds for each segment. This technique is known as scenario segmentation and it can be a powerful tool to help you optimize decision accuracy and increase profits.

Select segments that share a common risk level

Segments can be large or small, and the number of segments may vary depending on the size and diversity of your business. However, what is most important is that the events within each segment all share a common level of risk.

These segments may slice on attributes such as product type, payment method type, or country and region. In Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection, you can use Virtual Fraud Analyst to help identify slices, which have above- or below-average fraud rates.

For example, if you sell both physical and digital goods, you may observe that the two have very different fraud rates, indicating that these would make appropriate segments. However, upon further inspection, you observe that within the digital segment, fraud rates still vary considerably. Some digital products, such as gift cards, may be heavily targeted by fraudsters and account for a disproportionate amount of all digital fraud. In contrast, other digital products, such as some low-risk subscriptions may have consistently low fraud rates, indicating that they are rarely targeted. Therefore, these two product groups can each be placed in their own segment.

Balance segmentation needs with operational efficiency

While more segments allow for more granular control, it’s important to remember that each additional segment will require additional effort to maintain. While you could create unique segments for every product in your catalog, each with their own individualized score cutoff, this would quickly become unreasonable to manage. Therefore, it’s important to be mindful of available resources and ensure that the operational load does not exceed a reasonable capacity.

Configure risk-based thresholds for each segment

After your segments have been defined, the next step is to choose appropriate score cutoffs for each segment. Generally higher-risk segments (such as gift cards) will have low cutoffs, minimizing fraud loss, while lower-risk segments (such as subscriptions) will have high cutoffs, decreasing false positives and reducing customer friction. It is important to consider factors such as profit margin, fraud rate, rejection rate, and false positive rate when setting this cutoff.

After you determine your segments and their corresponding score cutoffs, the final step is to implement your segmentation strategy using real-time rules. The rule engine in Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection provides you with the flexibility to easily segment your traffic and set custom score cutoffs for each segment.

As in the example above, given their differing fraud rates, you may want to set a lower score threshold for gift cards, and a higher threshold for subscriptions. You can accomplish this with the following rules:

RETURN Reject()WHEN @"productList.category" == "Subscription" and @"riskScore" > 700
RETURN Reject()WHEN @"productList.category" == "Gift Card" and @"riskScore" > 400

These rules are written in the custom rules language included in Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection. For more information, check out the Language guide for Fraud Protection rules.

Next steps

Segmenting your traffic and writing effective rules is a crucial step in protecting your business from fraud. Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection offers several tools to make segmentation easy and effective. Take advantage of the virtual fraud analyst to help select appropriate segments and cutoffs, and learn how to use Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection’s rule engine to create and manage rules, allowing you to automate decisions for each segment.

If you are not currently using Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection, check out the documentation to learn more and start a free trial today.

The post Optimize fraud control with scenario segmentation in Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection appeared first on Microsoft Dynamics 365 Blog.

Brought to you by Dr. Ware, Microsoft Office 365 Silver Partner, Charleston SC.

NRF 2021: enabling retailers to reimagine the road ahead with Microsoft Business Applications

NRF 2021: enabling retailers to reimagine the road ahead with Microsoft Business Applications

This article is contributed. See the original author and article here.

Truly engaged, always connected

The past year has brought complex challenges for retailers of every size, and in response many have quickly pivoted their businesses to adjust.

With store closures during lockdown, retailers leveraged Microsoft Dynamics 365 to facilitate new purchasing options for their customers, such as shipping from stores and click and collect. Once stores reopened, Dynamics 365 helped retailers realize the vitality of mobile point of sale solutions and contactless payment options to ensure safe and secure shopping experiences for both customers and sellers alike.

It’s clear that resilience and agility will be the key drivers of success for retailers moving forward, as customer demands change and new challenges emerge, and Microsoft is dedicated to empowering these organizations with the technology solutions they need.

Today at NRF 2021: Retail’s Big Show, we are introducing the private preview of Microsoft Cloud for Retail, as well as updates to Dynamics 365 that help retailers better engage both B2B and B2C customers. These new capabilities join Dynamics 365 and Microsoft Power Platform solutions that work together to help brands deliver personalized and meaningful customer experiences across physical and digital channels, uniquely connecting the end-to-end shopper journey.

We are excited to continue partnering with retailers leveraging Dynamics 365 and Power Platform solutions, including the new capabilities we’re announcing today, to drive their success in 2021. Take a look at how a few leading retailers around the world are looking to Dynamics 365 and Power Platform to build resilience, increase agility, and ultimately accelerate business outcomes.

Unify your e-commerce capabilities

With disparate retail systems, it’s difficult for retailers to scale across both traditional e-commerce and emerging channels for a truly seamless customer experience.

At NRF 2021, we are announcing the preview of B2B e-commerce functionality for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Commerceone of the solution’s most requested features. This new capability makes Dynamics 365 Commerce the optimal solution for B2B and B2C e-commerce on a single, holistic retail and commerce platform. By building on our consumer capabilities and bringing together B2B and B2C e-commerce, businesses can deliver consistent, personalized, and user-friendly purchasing options for all their customers. Combine this with close integration to Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales and Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Service, retailers can enable curated self-service buying options for business accounts, along with increasing the productivity of their sales reps and empower them to provide informed and relevant offers to their buyers.

Kent Watersports is one of the largest sellers of watersports equipment globally. With a range of brands including O’Brien, Hyperlite, Connelly, Liquid Force, and more, Kent Watersports chose to work with Microsoft to help expand their e-commerce capabilities and sales capacity amidst increased online demand in 2020 and deliver a connected and user-friendly experience for both B2C and B2B customers.

“Our business customers want to be able to connect to our site and place their orders themselves. Historically, they were sharing Excel spreadsheets or calling a sales rep. We really appreciate the ability of the buyer to place the order electronically. It saves us a lot of time, and in fact it’s a better experience for the customers, and the sales reps, to actually be using our B2B e-commerce solution.”Rhett Thompson, Director of IT, Kent Watersports

Along with Kent Watersports, Columbia Sportswear also worked with Microsoft to rapidly adjust to market changes amid temporary store closures by the pandemic in early 2020. Columbia Sportswear leveraged Dynamics 365 Commerce to facilitate shipping from stores to meet customer demand and also started converting their store experiences to be compliant with local regulations. Once stores reopened, mobile point of sale solutions and contactless payment options became broadly adopted and ensured safe and secure shopping experience for both customers and sellers alike. Russel Anderson, Sr. Director Retail Operations, Columbia Sportswear shared how Dynamics 365 reduces time to value: “With Dynamics 365 Commerce we have realized that technology does not need to move as slowly as we previously thought it did, it can move faster.”

Throughout the NRF 2021 digital event, we will also showcase how retailers are using Dynamics 365 and Power Platform solutions to understand and engage customers, reduce fraud risk, and build resilient and agile supply chains.

Know your customer like never before

Providing personalized experiences at scale requires deep insights into customer needs and buying behavior. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Insightsbrings together transactional, behavioral, and demographic data in real time to create a complete view of your customers and unlock insights to drive informed decisions, automate processes, and personalize customer engagement across channels.

Chipotle Mexican Grill is using Dynamics 365 Customer Insights to organize, analyze, and enrich its customer data to target marketing efforts so they’re as meaningful and effective as possible. With multiple sources of customer data but no comprehensive customer data platform, they couldn’t use that data to drive business insights or improve marketing efforts. Now, having chosen Microsoft to help navigate its customer data journey, Chipotle can understand customer preferences and customize relevant marketing messages, boosting revenue for the company and increasing personalization for customers.

Protect your customers and your bottom line

As more businesses turn to e-commerce, it also increases the exposure to fraud and abuse: a majority of fraud is committed during card-not-present transactions. Fraud is not only a burden for customers with stolen identities, account takeover, and more, but it represents a serious operational hazard for merchants. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection is a cloud-based SaaS solution designed to help e-commerce, brick-and-mortar, and omnichannel merchants decrease fraud costs and improve profitability. We are helping merchants globally to protect their revenue and reputation with tools and capabilities to decrease fraud and abuse, reduce operational expenses, and increase acceptance rates, while safeguarding user accounts from fraud exposure.

Darden Restaurants, operating some of the most recognizable brands in full-service dining including Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse, needed to move swiftly to address a growing fraud issue during the COVID-19 pandemic. With the shift to an online-only model, Darden started noticing some fraudulent payments and looked to Microsoft for help. Darden Restaurants deployed Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection to combat purchase fraud at LongHorn Steakhouse, and together with Microsoft they had the solution quickly up and runningprotecting the restaurants and customers against fraud.

Build a supply chain that can handle any challenge

Another major repercussion of the COVID-19 outbreak has been the exposure of global supply chain vulnerabilities. Merchants need real-time visibility into their inventory to drive demand for overstock products and expedite replenishment of out-of-stock items cost effectively. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management helps businesses build a resilient supply chain and agility to rapidly re-plan supply and distribution of products in near real-time with in-memory microservice to adapt to shifting customer demand. Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management enables businesses to accomplish this in a matter of minutes, instead of days. Businesses can also seamlessly scale distribution and warehouse operations with edge computing during peaks. This capability, combined with an intelligent distributed order management system, provides businesses with a single global view of their inventory, to intelligently manage, automate, and optimize order fulfillment to ensure on-time delivery in a cost-effective manner.

One of our customers, Mobilezone, simplified the solutions landscape by choosing Dynamics 365 to get a better view of their customers and omnichannel sales capabilities for operating online, company-owned, and partner stores. Mobilezone consolidated its customer information within a single platform for heightened security, greater ease of use, and vastly improved inventory management. Mobilezone uses the synergy between Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management and Dynamics 365 Commerce to analyze and satisfy demand.

“By using Supply Chain Management, we can automate alerts regarding inventory in specific locations, so we avoid the risks of out-of-stocks and overstocking.”Fritz Hauser, Director of IT and Logistics, Mobilezone

Another customer, Monogram Foods, is excited to enhance warehouse operations and create resiliency using edge scale units for Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management. As Turner Foster, Senior Developer Manager, Monogram Foods explains: “Our frozen goods warehouse has a tight time constrained picking process, and it is critical for our warehouse team to have a consistent and reliably quick response throughout the entire picking operation. The architectural design of the solution ensures that these critical warehouse workloads are isolated from the rest of our operations, eliminating points of contention during these time sensitive processes.”

Retail solutions that are built to work together

Together, Dynamics 365 Commerce, Dynamics 365 Customer Insights, Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management, and Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection help businesses streamline omnichannel operations, providing near real-time solutions for managing inventory, reducing fraud risk, and creating new customer services. Power Platform works together with Dynamics 365 to provide an additional layer of flexibility of adaptability, delivering low-code solutions to innovate with apps, automate processes, create virtual bots to improve service, and analyze data quickly to streamline reporting and gain insights across the organization, from the frontline to the supply chain, sales to service.

Get the full story

If you are registered for NRF 2021, we invite you to join Shelley Bransten, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President, Consumer Goods and Retail Industries, to learn how Microsoft is empowering retailers from across the globe to build more intelligent, resilient, and sustainable retail operations. Tune in on Wednesday, January 13 at 1:00 PM Eastern Time.

Also, continue to visit the Dynamics 365 blog this week to learn more about how Dynamics 365 and Power Platform are helping retailers reimagine the road ahead with truly engaged, always connected solutions. Be sure to check out our new Business Applications retail industry webpage for more information.

The post NRF 2021: enabling retailers to reimagine the road ahead with Microsoft Business Applications appeared first on Microsoft Dynamics 365 Blog.

Brought to you by Dr. Ware, Microsoft Office 365 Silver Partner, Charleston SC.

3 ways retailers can shape the new normal with their frontline workforce

3 ways retailers can shape the new normal with their frontline workforce

This article is contributed. See the original author and article here.

People are at the heart of every organization’s success. The pandemic has brought into sharp focus just how truly essential the frontline retail workforce is to our lives and global economy. Learn how retailers can empower their frontline workforce with Microsoft Teams exceed customer expectations, make products and processes better, and create connections across the entire organization.

The post 3 ways retailers can shape the new normal with their frontline workforce appeared first on Microsoft 365 Blog.

Brought to you by Dr. Ware, Microsoft Office 365 Silver Partner, Charleston SC.

The power of CDPs: building customer trust and loyalty in retail

How Sunrise Technologies used Microsoft Dynamics 365 to stay productive in 2020

This article is contributed. See the original author and article here.

“It was March 13 at noon. I think that’s when we announced in the company that we were hard stopping,” said John Pence, president and founder of Sunrise Technologies. “I don’t think any of the executive team will ever forget that lunch.”

Like John, I’m sure you remember where you were in March of 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic started to rapidly spread around the world, causing the most tumultuous year many of us have seen in our lifetimes.

As we begin a new year, we want to take a little time for reflection, to look back at the year we just went through as well as look ahead to 2021. To do so, we checked in with a few Microsoft partners who you’ll be hearing from over the course of the next several weeks. We wanted to find out how they and their customers had adapted to the sudden disruption of the pandemic, what customer and industry trends they were seeing, what lessons they had learned from facing the challenges of 2020, and what predictions they had for 2021.

Today, we focus on Sunrise Technologies and hear from John Pence, the company’s president and founder. Pence founded Sunrise Technologies in 1994, and the company became a Microsoft partner in 2003. According to Pence, Sunrise does a lot of large application system integrator work and enterprise resource planning (ERP) implementations using the Microsoft Dynamics 365 applications.

Adapting to serve customers

Sunrise Technologies is an international company with offices in China and Europe. That meant Pence got an early view into how COVID-19 was impacting operations around the world. In February of 2020, as the pandemic began to spread, Sunrise Technologies was forced to close its China offices. “Our offices in China shut down right after Chinese New Year, right at the beginning of February. We watched it all happen, and honestly, it just didn’t sink in that this was about to happen to us,” Pence said.

Two weeks later, everything changed. “It was like a tornado hit. It felt to us that on March 1, 2020 a switch flipped, and all of a sudden, we had a crazy week and it was like, oh my gosh, maybe we should start cutting back on travel, and then we had a second week like that, and it was clear we had to shut down. We’re a consulting company, so we pulled everyone off the road and closed all our offices.”

Sunrise Technologies’ customer base was significantly impacted by the sudden closures, with many of their retail customers experiencing 70 80 percent sales drops from late March through June. Throughout those early days of the pandemic, Pence noted that the Sunrise Technologies team worked hard to support their customers.

“It was a really traumatic time, but I think we handled the client interaction really well,” Pence said. “We were very flexible with the work with the clients. We extended terms, we lowered rates, we introduced free software to help with supply chain replanning activities, and we just gave it to all our clients. We did a lot of stuff trying to help them survive.”

Cloud services help organizations weather the storm

Despite the chaos and disruption caused by the pandemic, Pence said the fact that Sunrise Technologies is a cloud-based operation helped them continue to serve their customers without interruption.

“We had no idea this was going to happen. Everything suddenly shut, and yet we could just keep right on rolling. We were like a proof point all by ourselves. We are a 100 percent cloud operation internally. We use all Dynamics 365 products. We run all of our ERP operations on Dynamics 365. We use CRM for all of our sales and marketing as well as billing and time tracking. It proved out the value of the cloud in the sense of remote work.”John Pence, president and founder, Sunrise Technologies

According to Pence, many of his customers significantly benefitted from being cloud-based organizations. “Being on a cloud architecture for their basic business transaction platforms absolutely enabled our customers to survive the pandemic,” Pence said. “Some of the capabilities of Dynamic 365, like distributor management, the ability to spin up virtual stores, the ability to virtually alter their supply chains, absolutely helped.”

A surprisingly productive year

Even though they were all working remotely, Pence’s team was still able to be remarkably productive this year. “One of the things that we’ve found most mind-boggling is that we have had 21 go-lives as a company since we shut down on March 13,” Pence said. “The vast majority of those are full platform ERP implementations, and some of the biggest ones we’ve actually ever done have been done since we couldn’t travel.”

Within Sunrise Technologies, Pence said his team had learned there is much more they can do without traveling than they had previously believed was possible. “It was way more than any of us ever expected, especially for areas like sales and marketing,” Pence said. “In terms of collaborative work, we all learned that we could take some of the tools we have, like Microsoft Teams, and push them farther than we were using them before. From a productivity point of view, many things will never go all the way back to the way we used to do things.

Looking ahead to 2021, from a big picture perspective, Pence thinks businesses were reminded of the importance of supply chains, as well as the importance of visibility, flexibility, and the ability to address rapid change. “That will cause a lot of demand for what we do and what Microsoft does,” Pence said. “As people dust themselves off from this, they’re going to say, ‘we’ve got to get this stuff fixed, because if something like this happens again, we can’t be in the same place we were in this time.'”

Learn more

The post How Sunrise Technologies used Microsoft Dynamics 365 to stay productive in 2020 appeared first on Microsoft Dynamics 365 Blog.

Brought to you by Dr. Ware, Microsoft Office 365 Silver Partner, Charleston SC.