Microsoft is expanding its Dynamics 365 service with new online commerce and retail store management capabilities, among other features.
The Commerce and Connected Store applications will extend the reach of Microsoft’s ERP and CRM suite, and provide a helping hand to retailers selling through multiple channels.
Dynamics 365 also gets new IoT analytics tools, including Product Insights to provide additional services to customers with connected devices, and IoT Intelligence for SCM to help adapt production to changes in the supply chain.
And there are new tools for creating customer service chatbots and monitoring their performance, as well as enhancements to Microsoft’s customer data platform, Customer Insights, to help B2B sales staff identify “buying committees” within customer companies, and to analyze the purchasing process in more depth than the existing tools targeted at B2C sales teams permit.
Commerce tools for bricks and clicks
“CEOs who participate in the retail industry are telling us it’s time to reinvent bricks-and-mortar,” said Lorraine Bardeen, general manager for Dynamics 365 Mixed Reality at Work, at a presentation of the new software last week. “They’re also saying commerce has to be available anywhere, anytime, any platform.” This has prompted the company to introduce two new modules for Dynamics 365: Commerce and Connected Store.
Commerce is an evolution of Dynamics 365 Retail to include e-commerce functions. It allows vendors to create and manage online stores, connecting it with existing retail outlets to provide in-store pick-up and suggest to staff opportunities to upsell to clients in person.
Connected Store, the other new module, is now available in private preview, and uses cameras in stores to monitor stock levels and customer behavior. Because of the additional hardware requirements, it will be a much bigger integration challenge for CIOs.