By: Wendy Scheuring
On November 1, Microsoft will transition Dynamics AX, including its retail components, to Dynamics 365 for Operations branding. 365 Operations will begin releasing new industry specific capabilities in waves, beginning with retail store in November, and shop floor and warehouse in Spring 2017, according to Pepijn Richter, Director of Product Marketing at Microsoft.
This new release can be run completely on the cloud or as a hybrid solution in certain industry-specific scenarios. Retailers want flexibility when it comes to deployment options, including picking and choosing to run on Azure or through their in-store system. POS can be deployed in one or two pilot stores and then later integrated to all stores within a period of time.
For in-store employees, user experience will be the same for both cloud and on-premise versions, but the solution will always be connected to the cloud. However, retailers have a choice about what they want to run on the cloud and what they want to run on-premise. The goal is to retain continuity, especially in retail.
According to Richter, there are two priorities for Retail:
- Breaking down the barriers and engaging formats and channels in the store and at home; and
- Fulfilling customer expectations anywhere, and delivering on the promise to provide flexible delivery methods.
The goal of 365 Operations is to support an end-to-end process, providing support to headquarters, the supply chain, and mobile worker capabilities.
The new customer shopping journey involves awareness consideration, evaluation, buying, post-purchase, and relationship management. The goal is to integrate with web content management systems to create an omni-channel ecommerce shopping experience for consumers, and to generate interaction between store associates and customers via mobile devices in the store and at home.
New Features for Retail in Dynamics 365 for Operations
Microsoft outlined a range of new retail-related features that users can expect in Dynamics 365 Operations, including:
- Hybrid transactions allowing shipped and purchased in-store items to be recorded on one transaction
- Inventory look-up in stores in local regions and warehouses
- Record of sales representation, including listing of one or more sales reps per purchase
- Enabling customers to purchase products in-store and ship to customer’s address, another address, or to another store
- Basic and Advanced warehouses with capabilities for large storefronts
- Verifone payment integrations
- Credit and debit card processing without owning card data
Bringing the online experience to your physical storefront
Mobile devices in the physical store improve customer experience and promote conversation between sales associates and customers. 365 Operations promotes a full-screen view no matter the device. A Windows universal app runs on all form factors, such as phones, PCs, tablets, Windows, iOS, and Android. The screen will feature a left navigation bar, dialog sliders, product look-up, checkout flow, variant selection, and a search header. (The consumer app is only compatible with the AX7 version).
Additional in-store features include:
- POS applications can be run on a tablet and created in 10-15 minutes
- Customization of screen images
- Look up products, view images, add products to cart, provide warranty information
- View side-by-side comparison of items
- Add customer information to the transaction
- Customer can pick up product at store or at other location. Taxes are based upon where item is picked up.
- Option for deposit or paying remaining balance
- Store associates can carry one device
- Meaningful and personalized product recommendations
The Retail version of 365 Operations currently cannot process PayPal but this is something Microsoft is working on for future transactions. And, 365 Operations also doesn’t support an ecommerce storefront, although partners can assist with this at the present.