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As the retail industry rebounds from the unparalleled disruptions to store operations over the last year, the store’s role in merchant strategy is evolving and being reimagined. For retailers to thrive in ever more competitive marketplaces, they must embrace technology solutions that enable a modern and intelligent store. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Commerce stands ready with the capabilities to accelerate and empower retailers in their digital transformation journey.

Enhance customer shopping experiences

As physical stores return to pre-pandemic operating capacity, retailers realize the extent to which a new normal for store operations has taken hold. The result is that they are searching for opportunities to leverage technology to improve and automate the in-store experience, reduce costs, enhance operational efficiencies, and ultimately, enhance customer shopping experiences.

As the amount of data generated is growing exponentially across the customer journey, from online to in-store and beyond, retailers need to leverage this data to bridge the digital to physical divide in a seamless and frictionless way. Dynamics 365 Commerce assists companies in these efforts with solutions that deliver curated customer interactions, enable contactless selling, maximize physical store revenue, streamline store operations, and reduce loss due to fraud.

Learn more about Microsoft Cloud for Retail.

Curated customer interactions

We have previously talked about how Dynamics 365 can deliver personalized digital customer engagement. The natural extension of personalized digital customer engagement is to bring the same strategy to the physical store. In this case, we speak about curating customer interactions by augmenting store associates with an unprecedented view of consumers, also known as clienteling.

This strategy is not new. Retailers have long sought ways to build long-term relationships with their most important customers. In the days before box store chains, repeat customers could reasonably expect sales associates to remember who they were, what their preferences were, and even have a good sense of the items in which they might be interested. As retail chains grew and expanded into e-commerce marketplaces, in-store associate turnover and customer mobility also increased. The result is the personalized experiences that customers desire decreased due to a lack of continuity of in-store associates and, to a lesser extent, the different stores that customers may visit. Another factor at work here is the disconnect between e-commerce marketplaces and physical stores, leaving frontline workers lacking critical data about customer purchases and preferences.

At Microsoft, we are actively enabling technologies such as AI and machine learning to change this situation by empowering store associates with better customer insights based on data gathered across every customer touchpoint. And by connecting the once siloed data of digital and physical enterprise systems, we are helping merchants provide an end-to-end digital buying experience across every stage of the customer journey. In physical stores, this means that associates can utilize handheld digital shared devices to access a full 360-degree customer profile. This provides frontline teams with AI-driven recommendations, access to real-time up-sell and cross-sell guidance, and even unlocks customer brand affinity or product preferences.

Enable contactless selling

One of the trends we highlighted in our recent blog on the 4 post-pandemic retail trends was contactless payments. And with good reason. Market studies in recent months found that a large percentage of consumers were still anxious about shopping in stores. One way that retailers can reduce this anxiety is by enabling seamless contactless selling experiences.

By enabling contactless payments, either via store associate handheld devices or with automated checkout systems, consumers have one less physical surface to touch. While no panacea for eliminating consumers’ health risk and associated anxiety, contactless selling has other benefits like reducing time spent in checkout lines and eliminating a point of friction in the purchase process. Ultimately, Dynamics 365 Commerce enables contactless selling with mobile point-of-sale (POS) and contactless payment solutions so that merchants can deliver safe and secure shopping experiences.

Learn more about contactless payments and other retail trends in our recent e-book: The Future of Commerce in a Post-Pandemic World.

Maximize physical store revenue

Successful merchants understand the importance of maximizing physical store revenue. With Dynamics 365 Commerce, retailers have a deeper understanding of purchasing habits that allow them to tailor product selections, offer timely and data-driven recommendations, and access any relevant promotions. Additionally, by developing a single view of customers for use at physical POS and connecting this with a real-time view of cross-store inventory and purchasing options, merchants can enable endless aisles to ensure that they never miss a sales opportunity. This translates into increasing the number of units sold per transaction and maximization of sales per square foot. Plus, Dynamics 365 Commerce also helps boost in-store team member productivity with inventory, shift, and cash drawer management actions across all role-specific workspaces.

Streamline store operations

Retailers that are seeking to streamline store operations should look to utilize edge-based technology to unlock new insights, such as identifying and responding faster to in-store profit gaps and improving the efficiency of store team members­-actions that ultimately serve to improve overall store profitability.

A byproduct of streamlining store operations by adopting innovative and connected technology solutions is that it decreases the time required to open new stores or add new franchises by removing friction from every part of business operations and processes. This is a pivotal area where the capabilities of Dynamics 365 Commerce can help to optimize retail operations and deliver friction-free shopping experiences to customers.

Reduce fraud loss

While retailers are rightly focused on reducing loss due to fraud, they must also focus on delivering data privacy and security. Dynamics 365 Commerce helps merchants maximize profitability by providing loss prevention tools that combat internal fraudulent practices. At the same time, Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection provides even greater protection for purchases and accounts with industry-leading enterprise-grade security that also reduces losses due to return fraud.

Learn more: Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection.

Creating the store of the future

By connecting digital and physical store systems, unifying the data that these systems collect, leveraging that data with AI and machine learning, and connecting that data to in-store team members, Dynamics 365 Commerce is helping retailers to create the store of the future. We believe that the modern and intelligent store is one where retail operations are transformed and reimagined, and we are enabling merchants on this journey to deliver curated customer interactions, enable contactless selling, maximize physical store revenue, streamline store operations, and reduce loss due to fraud.

What’s next?

At Microsoft, we will continue to deliver timely and innovative solutions that help companies enable the modern and intelligent store. If you are ready to start delivering unified, personalized, and seamless buying experiences for your customers and partners, we invite you to try a free trial of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Commerce today.

We're always looking for feedback and would like to hear from you. Please head to the Dynamics 365 Community to start a discussion, ask questions, and tell us what you think!

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