By Ed Kennedy, Senior Director and Commerce Evangelist, Episerver
As more consumers are shopping and doing product research online, most retailers know that digital channels must become a part of their business strategy. Yet digitally transforming a retail business from back-end to front-end can be a complicated process.
Retailers already benefit from how Microsoft Dynamics 365 integrates enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) into a single, cloud-based solution. Dynamics 365 has led the way in digital transformation by breaking down silos and helping retailers standardize data and business processes. Retailers can now have a complete, accurate view of all products, orders, pricing, and customer data in one place. They can streamline workflows and easily manage stock from production to the point of sale.
Once retailers have integrated their systems in Dynamics 365, they are ready for the next step in their transformation: unifying eCommerce and back-office operations. Seamless integration is the backbone of Dynamics 365, and Microsoft has made it easy to connect its platform to third-party ecommerce solutions. There are several advantages to choosing an ecommerce platform with built-in integration for Dynamics 365. Most importantly, this enables retailers to unify all commerce data and experiences across all channels.
Unifying commerce for omnichannel retail
Consumers expect consistent experiences whether they are inside a store, browsing on their mobile device, or shopping on their laptop. To provide these experiences, retailers must have a unified commerce solution that provides accurate, relevant data in real time. The solution must also enable fluid, cross-channel customer journeys that can start in one channel and pick up in another without frustrating the customer.
Integration between Dynamics 365 and an eCommerce platform can make this possible. All data for orders, products, pricing, and promotions is shared. Dynamics 365 provides in-store salespeople with a complete view of the customer’s history and product data. A mature eCommerce solution can provide a personalized online experience based on the same information. By delivering seamless, relevant experiences – in whatever channel – retailers can increase customer loyalty and sales.
Unifying Dynamics 365 and an ecommerce platform also makes it easy to personalize experiences. Retailers can quickly create personalization rules based on the customer data that they have saved in Dynamics CRM. For example, the data in the Customer Group or Industry fields in Dynamics CRM can be used to show banners or promotions to specific visitor groups.
Faster time to market and better user experience by combining content and commerce
Choosing an ecommerce solution with built-in Dynamics 365 integration means that retailers can launch online stores and other digital channels faster and at a lower cost. Digital Experience Platforms (DXP) with a single code base for managing content and commerce experiences can save retailers significant project cost. They also may include a startup site so retailers can get even faster time to market. But most importantly, DXP’s that combine content and commerce provide the best possible user experience for consumers to discover, browse, purchase, and advocate for retailer’s products.
Side-step traditional infrastructure overhead with Platform-as-a-Service cloud models
eCommerce solutions deployed to the cloud deliver several advantages. This gives retailers the flexibility to build and deploy sites wherever they want, using whatever tools and resources they want. Third-party Platform-as-a-Service solutions can use Microsoft Azure infrastructure and Azure Web Apps, delivering a fully managed platform with prebuilt, back-end solutions. This enables retailers to focus on what matters most: their business.