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Delivering a seamless commerce experience: Unlocking omnichannel retailing with intelligent order management

The momentum of e-commerce continues. In fact, McKinsey & Company has stated that e-commerce shopping has 30 percent higher penetration than pre-COVID-19 pandemic, and that this pandemic has also accelerated e-commerce growth by five years.1 The COVID-19 pandemic certainly explains part of the growth in the demand, but it is not the whole story. Other…

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The momentum of e-commerce continues. In fact, McKinsey & Company has stated that e-commerce shopping has 30 percent higher penetration than pre-COVID-19 pandemic, and that this pandemic has also accelerated e-commerce growth by five years.1 The COVID-19 pandemic certainly explains part of the growth in the demand, but it is not the whole story. Other factors such as increased mobile commerce, accelerated business-to-business (B2B) and direct-to-consumer (DTC) e-commerce adoption, and new technological advances have created both opportunities and challenges for companies that embrace omnichannel retailing.

Retailers must either build new or infuse present strategies, systems, and processes with a composable approach to obtain omnichannel commerce experience. Let’s look at how Microsoft Dynamics 365 modular and composable cloud-based solutions help organizations provide their customers with unified commerce experiences.

Agility improves operational execution

Retailers are investing in integrating experiences and agile solutions for a good reason. McKinsey & Company states that the new bar for omnichannel excellence is 10 or more channels over three engagement modes (in-person, remote, and self-service), delivered 24/7.2 Omnichannel fulfillment retail tactics, such as buy online pickup in store (BOPIS), buy online pickup at curbside (BOPAC), reserve online pickup in store (ROPIS), buy online return in store (BORIS), or locker, ship from store, ship to store, endless aisle, two-day delivery, and more, are adding more complexity and challenges for retailers to deliver on their order promise.

Hence, in these environments, unifying data across internal and external networks to include physical and digital touchpoints requires agile and resilient solutions for faster responses to market changes and disruptions. At the pandemic’s beginning, many retailers, manufacturers, distributors, and consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies accelerated their digital transformation journey to adapt to changing customers’ needs quickly.

“With Dynamics 365, we can make decisions much more quickly and respond in near real-time to consumer demand. What used to take two days now happens almost immediately.”

—Russell Anderson, Senior Director, Retail Operations
Columbia Sportswear

Watch the video in our customer story: “Columbia Sportwear gains business flexibility and a sales boost with Microsoft Azure and Dynamics 365.”

A modern microservices-based order management system (OMS) helps organizations incrementally replace modular components of their existing infrastructure to gradually advance wherever they are in their supply chain and commerce digital transformation journey. It also allows organizations to avoid costly and time-consuming rip-and-replace projects by seamlessly integrating with existing enterprise resource planning (ERP) investments, unifying data across disparate systems, and unlocking siloed inventory and operational data.

Extensibility scales end-to-end visibility and fulfillment

As order intake, cross-channel inventories, and third-party logistics providers (3PLs) intersect at order management, end-to-end visibility becomes an imperative. More than 80 percent of shoppers said it is important for retailers to provide the estimated date/time of arrival for products on their website, and 78 percent said providing in-store availability was important to them.3

Figure 1: Inventory visibility dashboard in Dynamics 365 Intelligent Order Management. Learn how to set up the inventory visibility connector in the product documentation page.

Dynamics 365 Intelligent Order Management helps organizations achieve end-to-end order visibility through its fulfillment optimization engine that uses real-time inventory visibility and AI. More than half, 66 percent, of retailers surveyed said inventory accuracy—a core capability for omnichannel fulfillment—was very or somewhat challenging when setting up their omnichannel program.4

Dynamics 365 Intelligent Order Management also extends its intelligent fulfillment optimization capabilities with out-of-the-box, pre-built connectors to an ecosystem of specialized partners for e-commerce, delivery, transportation, warehouse management, tax compliance, price calculation, and other logistics services.

Figure 2: Partial view of the pre-built connectors catalog in Dynamics 365 Intelligent Order Management.

For example, consider our pre-built connector to our partner Flexe, the programmatic logistics leader. The Dynamics 365 Intelligent Order Management Flexe connector expands the fulfillment capabilities, processes purchase orders from Flexe, and adds flexible warehouse management service. It also provides Dynamics 365 Intelligent Order Management users the option to rapidly expand network capacity, or allocate inventory closer to the customers and avoid the long-term contracts or fixed costs of traditional warehouse solutions.

With the ability to extend business capabilities through pre-built partner connectors, organizations can improve omnichannel strategies in step with their retail supply chain digital transformation processes. This allows organizations to incrementally scale their offering with modular, composable, and cloud-based business applications, bringing more agility and resilience into their omnichannel distribution network.

Composability enables omnichannel success

According to Gartner®, by 2024, 60 percent of intelligent software as a service (SaaS) will be composed from packaged business capabilities providing data, analytical insight, and operational application services.5 And by 2024, the design mantra for new SaaS and custom applications will be “composable API-first or API-only,” rendering traditional SaaS and custom applications “legacy.”6

Dynamics 365 unlocks composability and helps organizations achieve a unified commerce experience. It seamlessly integrates with existing ERP and customer relationship management (CRM) systems so that retailers can respond faster to customers’ needs by extending their business capabilities through out-of-the-box connectors to an ecosystem of specialized logistics services. This intelligent and modern platform provides a single view of orders across channels. Our fulfillment optimization engine uses a rules-based system, real-time inventory visibility, and AI to determine the most cost-efficient order fulfillment.

Figure 3: Embedded orchestration policy designer to configure order flows in Dynamics 365 Intelligent Order Management.

According to Forrester, 68 percent of global retail and wholesale purchase influencers plan to invest in AI solutions.7 Retail supply chain and commerce professionals can take advantage of the machine learning, AI, and low-code/no code features of Dynamics 365 Intelligent Order Management. They can easily reconfigure order flows and proactively overcome bottlenecks by modeling the order journey through an easy-to-use orchestration designer built in the fulfillment optimization engine.

Watch the video above to learn how to automate and optimize fulfillment with Dynamics 365 Intelligent Order Management. Experience a free trial or take a guided tour to learn more.

Create more agile and resilient supply chains

Dynamics 365 supply chain solutions helps build agile and resilient supply chains through easy-to-use, modular, and composable cloud-based business applications. Dynamics 365 Intelligent Order Management works seamlessly with existing ERP and CRM systems so that retailers can get to market faster, even when dealing with the complexities and challenges of omnichannel retail and fulfillment. They can also respond faster to customer needs by extending their fulfillment services through a composable and API-first connectivity architecture with out-of-the-box connectors to market-leading 3PL software solutions. With easy-to-deploy omnichannel fulfillment solution, retailers, manufacturers, distributors, and CPG companies can accelerate their supply chain digital transformation and turn order fulfillment into a competitive advantage.

Sources:

1. McKinsey & Company. Beyond the distribution center. June 2022.

2. McKinsey & Company, 2022. The new B2B growth equation.

3. Forrester, US Online Shoppers Expect Retailers To Provide Real-Time Information On Their Websites, August 2021.

4. Forrester. Building The Business Case For Omnichannel Commerce, August 2021.

5. Gartner. Use Gartner’s Reference Model to Deliver Intelligent Composable Business Applications. February 2022.*

6. Gartner. Top Strategic Technology Trends for 2022: Composable Applications. October 2021.*

7. Forrester. The Top Retail Tech Initiatives For 2021 – Retail And Brand Professionals Reveal Their Priorities For Tech-Driven Commerce Initiatives In The Coming Year. August 2021.

(*) GARTNER is a registered trademark and service mark of the Gartner Inc., in the U.S. and internationally and is used herein with permission.

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Facebook: How Meta Is Preparing for Brazil’s 2022 Elections

Today, we want to share our work to protect the integrity of presidential elections taking place in Brazil in October 2022. In recent years, we’ve increased our efforts to combat misinformation by investing in teams, technology and partnerships to ensure the safety of people using Meta’s platforms. Since 2016, we’ve quadrupled our security and integrity…

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Today, we want to share our work to protect the integrity of presidential elections taking place in Brazil in October 2022. In recent years, we’ve increased our efforts to combat misinformation by investing in teams, technology and partnerships to ensure the safety of people using Meta’s platforms.

Since 2016, we’ve quadrupled our security and integrity workforce to more than 40,000 people globally. Last year alone, we invested nearly $5 billion in both areas.

We know that local knowledge is essential for this work to be effective, so we also have a large team of specialists based in Brazil who have a deep understanding of the situation. These efforts are intensified as the election approaches, and our work to protect the integrity of our platforms will continue after the vote.

Preventing and Stopping Election Interference

Removing content that violates our policies on voter suppression, such as posts that discourage people from voting, is among our many responses to potential interference in the electoral process. We take many actions to prevent hate speech or the incitement of violence on our platforms.

Currently, 99.7% of the fake accounts we remove from Facebook are deleted by artificial intelligence, before they are reported by users. We also investigate and disrupt networks that use fake accounts in a coordinated way to influence public debate.

Closer to October, we will activate an Elections Operations Center focused on Brazil, an initiative we’ve implemented since 2018, to bring together experts from across the company – including intelligence, data science, engineering, research, operations, public policy and legal teams. They work together to identify potential threats on our platforms in real time, accelerating our response time.

Collaborating With Authorities

In partnership with Brazil’s Superior Electoral Court (TSE), in December 2021 we started adding a label to posts about political elections on Facebook and Instagram, directing people to reliable information on the Electoral Justice website. In the first two months after its launch, the label led to a 10-fold increase in visits to the Electoral Justice portal.

Between the end of April and the beginning of May, we posted reminders on Facebook for users to request or update their voter cards. The content was seen by the majority of adults using Facebook in Brazil and more than three  million people clicked to see more information. Closer to the upcoming election, we will again display reminders on Facebook and Instagram about voting day to raise awareness among voters and reduce abstention rates.

For the first time, the TSE will be able to report content directly on Facebook and Instagram that may violate our policies. We will analyze the reports once they are received.

WhatsApp launched an extrajudicial channel of communication in the 2020 municipal election to receive complaints from the TSE. The focus is on quick response to potential cases of bulk messaging, which is forbidden by local electoral law and by the app’s terms of service.

We also developed a virtual assistant on WhatsApp with the TSE, as we did during Brazil’s 2020 municipal election. The chatbot is accessible through the number +55 61 9637-1078. It allows voters to interact directly with the electoral authority and receive relevant information about the vote.

Meta has hosted training sessions for electoral officials all over Brazil to explain our actions to curb misinformation, share details on how Facebook and Instagram work, and detail our content rules, which we call our Community Standards and Community Guidelines. We also offer workshops to candidates and their campaign teams.

The partnership with the TSE also includes booklets with information for the electoral community and a guide to combating online violence against women in politics, also supported by the Women’s Democracy Network (WDN) – Brazil Chapter.

Fighting Misinformation

We remove content on Facebook and Instagram that discourages voting or interferes with voting, such as incorrect information about the election date or candidates’ numbers.

We also work with independent fact-checking organizations to verify the veracity of reported posts that don’t violate our Community Standards. When fact-checkers mark a post as false, we reduce its reach on Facebook and Instagram.

People who still see this content in their feeds will see it covered with a label and a link directing them to more information from the fact-checker. In July, we increased the number of partners in our fact-checking initiative in Brazil from four to six including: Agência Lupa, AFP, Aos Fatos, Estadão Verifica, Reuters Fact Check and UOL Confere.

Since messages on WhatsApp are end-to-end encrypted, we fight misinformation on WhatsApp through measures to reduce message virality.

Messages forwarded on WhatsApp are identified with a tag. Since 2020, messages with five or more forwards can be resent to just one conversation, which has led to a 70% global reduction in the number of frequently forwarded messages. This year, we implemented a new forwarding limit on WhatsApp: now, any forwarded message can only be forwarded again to one WhatsApp group at a time.

Advertising Transparency

In 2018, we launched our transparency tools for ads about politics and elections on Facebook and Instagram in Brazil. In 2020, we began requiring advertisers who wish to run ads about elections or politics to complete an authorization process and include “Paid for by” disclaimers on these ads. This year, we’ve expanded that requirement to ads about social issues such as economics, security and education.

All posts with the “Paid for by” disclaimer go to the Ad Library, where they are stored for seven years. The tool is open and provides anyone with detailed information about political ads including  the ad source account, audience demographics and estimated spending range, among other data.

Protecting the integrity of the Brazilian election in 2022 on our apps is a priority for Meta. We will continue to share updates on how we move forward with this work.

See more information about our work on elections.

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Microsoft is a Leader in The Forrester Wave: CRM Suites, Q3 2022

We are honored to announce that Microsoft Dynamics 365 was identified as a Leader in The Forrester WaveTM: CRM Suites, Q3 2022. A few weeks ago, during his Microsoft Inspire keynote, Satya Nadella reminded us of the distinct value that Microsoft provides to organizations by leading the way in digital transformation and supercharging their systems…

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We are honored to announce that Microsoft Dynamics 365 was identified as a Leader in The Forrester WaveTM: CRM Suites, Q3 2022.

A few weeks ago, during his Microsoft Inspire keynote, Satya Nadella reminded us of the distinct value that Microsoft provides to organizations by leading the way in digital transformation and supercharging their systems of record. “Dynamics 365 is purpose-built for this new world of business process. Our intelligent business applications connect data, process, and teams, ushering in a new era of hyper connected business and offering unparalleled value.” And over this past year we have been proud to see our customers take Dynamics 365 and show that there are really no limits to what can be done when you unite data silos with industry-leading AI and integrate collaboration tools throughout.

From the Campari Group’s ability to deploy bespoke personalization to their event attendees with real-time customer journey orchestration, to Dextra Group’s saving a whopping 60 percent on their customer relationship management (CRM) cost while also increasing seller productivity and lead quality, and to the city of Richmond, Virginia transformation of their non-emergency case management capabilities to deliver omnichannel engagement for improved efficiency and also becoming benchmark for how governments nationwide can utilize digital tools to better serve their communities.

What makes our CRM and connected products stand out for our customers? Here are seven key insights we have heard over the past year.

  1. Dynamics 365 provides an end-to-end, full-funnel solution. Dynamics 365 is the only portfolio of intelligent business applications that accelerates revenue outcomes by transforming selling experiences with a single intelligent, digital, customizable solution.
  2. Robust AI insights at your fingertips. Dynamics 365 enables everyone, across every team, to make better and more impactful decisions by converting data into insights with the intelligence of Microsoft AI allowing teams to be more efficient and productive.
  3. Breakdown the barriers between people. We offer the leading workplace collaboration, video conferencing, and meeting software in the world with Microsoft Teams, which can connect seamlessly with our out-of-the-box CRM or be personalized to fit an organization’s needs with custom features.
  4. Personalize every experience. Dynamics 365 Marketing assists companies in more deeply understanding their customers and drives intent with AI-powered insights to deliver connected experiences—all the way from acquisition to retention.
  5. Streamlined, proactive, scalable sales. Dynamics 365 helps sales teams uplevel forecasting and revenue operations with built-in AI and machine learning and enhance seller performance with recommended next best actions, productivity tools, and real-time coaching.
  6. Breakthrough service capabilities. Dynamics 365 Customer Service helps organizations meet the evolving needs of every customer across every channel and increases customer satisfaction, while boosting frontline employee productivity regardless of location.
  7. Low-code transformation. With Microsoft Power Platform, organizations can provide anyone with the ability for low-code transformation with low-code, intuitive, extensible tools that seamlessly connect to Dynamics 365. 

It’s an honor for us that so many organizations look to us for help modernizing sales, marketing, and service operations. As Forrester states in its report, “Microsoft’s strong vision, the breadth of its suite, and its partner ecosystem and industry solutions drive its 40% year-over-year growth, especially in industries such as financial services, healthcare, and retail.” We genuinely believe that with connected data, underpinned by industry leading AI and insights, there are no limits to what organizations can do. From upleveling employee experiences, to improving team productivity, and building deeper relationships with customers. It is all available with Dynamics 365.

Learn more

To learn more about how Microsoft compared with the other eight selected providers, please navigate to The Forrester WaveTM: CRM Suites, Q3 2022 website and get your copy.

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Exchange Online Basic authentication is going away: What you need to know

Effective October 1, 2022, you will no longer be able to use Basic authentication to connect to Microsoft Exchange Online. If your organization uses server-side synchronization or the deprecated Dynamics 365 Email Router, you should find out now whether you need to prepare for the change. How will removing Exchange Online Basic authentication affect Dynamics…

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Effective October 1, 2022, you will no longer be able to use Basic authentication to connect to Microsoft Exchange Online. If your organization uses server-side synchronization or the deprecated Dynamics 365 Email Router, you should find out now whether you need to prepare for the change.

How will removing Exchange Online Basic authentication affect Dynamics 365 and Power Apps?

After October 1, 2022, any connection to Exchange Online that uses server-side sync or the Dynamics 365 Email Router with Basic authentication (username and password) will quit working. Dynamics 365 mailboxes that use these connections will no longer be able to:

  • Send email from Dynamics 365 through Exchange Online
  • Retrieve email from Exchange Online
  • Synchronize appointments, contacts, or tasks between Dynamics 365 and Exchange Online

This change doesn’t affect connections that use Modern authentication (OAuth 2.0 token-based authorization).

How can I find out if I need to prepare?

If your company is using server-side sync or the Email Router to connect to Exchange Online using a username and password, you need to act. There are a couple of ways to find out whether your organization is affected and what you need to do if it is.

Review your Message Center Posts (recommended)

The fastest and most reliable way to know if you need to prepare and what to do is to look in the Microsoft 365 Message Center. (You must have admin rights to sign in to the Message Center.) The Exchange Online team has been sending monthly Message Center posts to all affected customers with the following title format: “Basic Authentication – Monthly Usage Report – 2022.”

If your organization is using server-side sync with Basic authentication, you may also have received Message Center posts from the Dynamics 365 or Power Apps services. Look for posts with the following title: “Impact due to Exchange Online disabling Basic Authentication.”

The posts provide detailed information about the change and actions you need to take before October 1.

Check your Dynamics 365 email settings

If you don’t find any posts in the Message Center, read our guide on how to check whether your organization is affected and if it is, what you need to do before October 1.

Learn more

You can find more information, including FAQs, in the documentation:

Use of Basic authentication with Exchange Online | Microsoft Docs

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