The COVID-19 crisis has impacted all aspects of our lives, shifting the way we live, interact, do business, and more. Retail merchants worldwide are dealing with emerging sales scenarios to address contactless selling, rising operational challenges, and plunging demand exasperated by increased fraud.
In this three-part blog series and a virtual fireside chat debuting on Tuesday, June 30, we’ll explore the latest best practices for the retail sector, including how to drive more personalized customer experiences in an era of contactless shopping, mitigate fraud risk in e-commerce environments, and gain visibility into your end-to-end supply chain management.
Understanding your customers in this moment
For retailers who are already grappling with data overload, it’s difficult to track customer needs, buying trends, and sentiment—even more so in today’s volatile market. With the shift to virtual engagements and operations, organizations are looking for reliable data and insights to continue to serve their customers on digital channels. Maintaining business continuity requires democratizing access to the data needed by decentralized workforce (data analysts, marketers, sellers, and customer service agents) to drive meaningful engagement while maintaining compliance with data privacy regulations.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Insights enables organizations to deepen their understanding of the customers and enhance the customer journey. Customer Insights unifies an ever-increasing volume of customer data from all sources, including not only traditional sources like campaigns, transactions, and calls, but also emerging sources like social shopping, augmented reality, and chatbots to create a 360-degree view of the customers and unlock real-time insights that are essential for powering personalized experiences at scale.
Adapting to social distancing
With the implementation of social distancing policies, consumer shopping habits have shifted to online commerce first, limiting visits to all stores, including grocers and pharmacies. Mandatory store closures have driven a dramatic growth in e-commerce as companies pivot to compensate for revenue loss, with nearly 40 percent increase in online sales since February, according to Signifyd’s E-commerce Pulse data.
Although we’re privileged to have the e-commerce infrastructure we have today, many businesses are currently struggling to meet this significant shift to e-commerce and are actively looking at ways to streamline their digital commerce capabilities.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 Commerce works to deliver intuitive and personalized customer experiences to organizations that are challenged with disparate commerce systems or unable to scale to the rise of customer demand. With intelligent online tools and both a connected and headless commerce engine, businesses can quickly stand up digital storefronts and enable future growth with Dynamics 365 Commerce end-to-end omnichannel solution.
Providing customers with contactless shopping
Similarly, we have seen the rapid emergence of contactless shopping: delivering products in a safe way, without contact with any external parties, through at-home delivery and curbside collection services. Consumers will carry forward a heightened sensitivity to “healthy” shopping habits, including cashless shopping, until there is a long-term solution for addressing the coronavirus. Curbside pickup used to be a popular perk. Now it’s a public health necessity with a year-over-year increase of buy-online-pickup-in-store orders.
Dynamics 365 Commerce helps businesses adjust to these evolving needs by enabling a truly seamless experience for customers across all channels of engagement.
Protecting from higher exposure to fraud and abuse
Although e-commerce provides many benefits for customers, it also increases the exposure to fraud and abuse: a majority of fraud is committed during card-not-present transactions. Fraud is not only a burden for customers with stolen identities, account takeover, and more, but it represents a serious operational hazard for merchants.
On one hand, the liability of fraud loss in online transactions lies with merchants, which is not the case for in-store (POS) transactions. On the other hand, there is a significant loss arising from wrongful rejects of legitimate customers as merchants and banks try to control fraud. The COVID-19 crisis, together with the surge in e-commerce transactions, has exacerbated fraud risks for both customers and merchants.
According to AP News, fraudsters are using the surge in online activity to target unsuspecting consumers and merchants. Merchants are starting to experience dramatic increases in COVID-19-related phishing activities, with stolen credentials released into the e-commerce payments chain, as well as increased friendly fraud activities.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection is a cloud-based SaaS solution designed to help e-commerce, brick-and-mortar, and omnichannel merchants decrease fraud costs and improve profitability. We are helping merchants globally to protect their revenue and reputation with tools and capabilities to decrease fraud and abuse, reduce operational expenses, and increase acceptance rates, while safeguarding user accounts from fraud exposure.
As merchants navigate and thrive in this new normal, we want to help them protect the revenue they’ve earned. Fraud Protection helps merchants combat purchase, account, and omnichannel return and discount fraud with adaptive AI technology continuously learning evolving fraud patterns. Merchants can improve operational efficiency by reducing manual efforts to determine business entities and functions at risk for fraud and losses, while enabling readily consumable reports with actionable insights provided by Fraud Protection.
Ensuring fast and effective fulfillment of customer demand
Another major repercussion of the COVID-19 outbreak has been the exposure of global supply chain vulnerabilities.
According to the Institute For Supply Chain Management, nearly 75 percent of companies reported supply chain disruptions in one form or the other due to coronavirus-related transportation restrictions, and the figure is expected to rise further over the next few weeks.
Without the tools and agility to rapidly adapt to these disruptions, businesses can expect to breed more customer dissatisfaction that will have a long-term impact on brand and customer loyalty. Merchants need real-time visibility into their inventory to drive demand for overstock products and expedite replenishment of out of stock items while still staying relevant.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management helps businesses build a resilient supply chain and agility to rapidly re-plan supply and distribution of products in near real-time to adapt to shifting customer demand. Supply Chain Management enables businesses to accomplish this in a matter of minutes, instead of days. This capability, combined with intelligent distributed order management system, provides businesses with a single global view of their inventory, to intelligently manage, automate and optimize order fulfillment to ensure on-time delivery in a cost-effective manner.
Delivering an excellent customer experience online is crucial now more than ever, so it’s important to shift attention from offline to online, including capabilities to scale up in demand generation and fulfillment.
Supply Chain Management and Commerce help businesses streamline omnichannel operations, providing near real-time solutions for managing inventory, resulting in a better experience for today’s increasingly demanding customers.
Ensuring business continuity
As we continue to measure the impact of COVID-19 and adapt to this new normal, it is fundamental to build resiliency and reimagine the way we do business end-to-end. Digital innovations will enable organizations to prepare now to ensure future success and operational stability in what will be a very challenged marketplace.
The post-COVID world will see digital technologies playing a critical enabling-role in delivering improvements throughout every aspect of business, including more resilient supply chains, significantly enhanced user-experiences, and intelligent optimized processes to deliver business outcomes.
Microsoft is working rapidly to offer digital tools to help your organization adjust to urgent needs and safeguard business continuity, enabling cost-saving, and prompt adoption of new technologies to get your businesses back up and running. We are offering a range of services to help you prepare:
- Dynamics 365 Commerce In a Day and Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection in a Day
- Dynamics 365 Commerce Jump-Start Program
- Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection Trial
- Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management Trial
Join our virtual fireside chat: Best Practices for Thriving in the Retail Industry Today
Debuts Tuesday, June 30, 2020 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM Pacific Time.
Register for this conversation with Microsoft experts to learn about best practices from the retail sector, including how to mitigate fraud risk, control operational costs, gain visibility into your end-to-end supply chain management, and leverage increases in e-commerce activity. Learn from Microsoft’s partnerships with global retailers how to protect revenue first, setting up your organization for growth in the new economic environment.
Hosted by Alysa Taylor, Corporate Vice President, Business Applications and Global Industry Microsoft and Shelley Bransten, Corporate Vice President, Global Retail and Consumer Goods, Microsoft.
We are here to assist you
We’re here to help you thrive in this new economic environment. Please contact your Microsoft sales representative to find out more about our range of offers to help your businesses rapidly adapt and onboard with needed technologies.