Need a model for retail’s digital transformation? Follow Hickory Farms’ lead

Few retailers have stood the test of time like Hickory Farms.

For generations of families in the U.S. and Canada, including mine, Hickory Farms invokes memories of holiday gift baskets brimming with specialty meats, gourmet cheeses, and festive treats. And no family trip to the mall was complete without a stop at the Hickory Farms retail store to snack on samples.

For many people, the holiday season unofficially starts on the day that Hickory Farms’ kiosks ‘pop up’ across more than 650 shopping malls—just one way the brand has navigated the fast-shifting retail landscape.

In fact, today Hickory Farms is a multichannel powerhouse, having transcended the shift from physical to digital by growing its thriving catalog and online businesses, expanding into club store and supermarket distribution, and reaching holiday shoppers where—and when—they are most likely to visit the mall.

Breaking down barriers to omnichannel success

Complexity is inherent in any multichannel operation—even more so when powered by aging, disparate systems. Each of Hickory Farms’ siloed systems defined customers, inventory, and pricing differently—a challenging scenario for the small IT team that depended on manual transactions for cross-channel integration.

That’s why Hickory Farms turned to Microsoft and a Microsoft partner, RSM, a nationally recognized Microsoft Dynamics Business Solution partner to unify its retail, catalog and online operations under a holistic omnichannel system powered by Dynamics 365.

The transformation was dramatic. With digital, in-store and back-office operations unified on a single platform, Hickory Farms can adapt quickly to the rapidly changing customer demands. The solution enabled them to centralize data scattered across siloed systems, connecting every corner of the business. Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, the backbone for the omnichannel operation, gives warehouse and distribution center staff instant access to inventory levels, production status, and order data via mobile devices. The solution is also able to now provide managers the ability to make more precise decisions during the company’s high-speed holiday business using Microsoft Power BI dashboards, offering a 360-degree view of the business, from inventory and production progress to staffing.

Modernizing Hickory Farms’ retail operations makes it possible to provide real-time inventory views at the store level for proactive replenishment and instant access to customer purchase histories for more personalized service. Plus, the ability to ship items not available at a kiosk from any warehouse Dynamics 365 for Retail was implemented.

Unified operations for next-level retail experiences

The Hickory Farms story demonstrates why retailers need full, 360-degree visibility into financials, operations, and their customers to survive in today’s dynamic–often volatile–retail climate.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 brings it all together. Global financials and operations unified on a centralized platform—Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations—to empower people to make fast, informed decisions. Personalized customer engagement at every touchpoint and seamless merchandising across channels, all possible with Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Retail. Plus, nearly instant access to inventory, orders, customer data, and financials from a single pane of glass thanks to Power BI. Ultimately, this allows Hickory Farms to focus on its mission of providing gourmet and specialty foods which millions enjoy.

Read more about Hickory Farms journey and learn how Dynamics 365 can help transform your retail operations.