Retail Executive Insights: Technology that Makes Your Customer-Facing Employees “Chief Empowerment Officers”

By - April 14, 2015

Knowledge is power, and today’s consumer has more control than ever before. By simply logging in online or turning on a smartphone, customers can browse, select, purchase, and receive goods and services from the brands they choose. If one option doesn’t meet their needs, there are myriad others in line behind it, clamoring for customer attention. In this new paradigm, shoppers are understandably selective, with high expectations for immediate feedback and support. Maintaining a competitive advantage in this fluid and demanding landscape requires that retailers operate at peak speed and efficiency, and that retail executives equip employees with the technology they need to cater to this newly empowered audience.

The New Point of Sale: Empowering Employees to Provide Exceptional Service

Retailers commonly use multiple channels to create separate customer experiences via a mix of ecommerce and brick and mortar interactions. That said, standing out in today’s retail landscape requires uniting these disparate identities, moving from a multichannel setup into a truly seamless omnichannel environment. To do this, the traditional Point of Sale (POS) model is transitioning into to a “Point of Service” approach, with
customer communication no longer limited to brief exchanges at the checkout counter, and employees who are encouraged to interact with shoppers throughout the buying journey and beyond.

To this end, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems like Microsoft Dynamics AX not only offer tender/transaction support, but also provide employees with immediate access to purchase intelligence—including sales history, transaction details, and even wish lists, so they can better assist in their customer’s journey. This type of information provides a 360-degree view of each customer, so associates can engage in more effective interactions.

Microsoft Dynamics AX: Customized Technology Solutions for the Retail Associate

As a leader in the retail space, Microsoft Dynamics AX features user interfaces that can be customized as required to facilitate specific user roles, providing (for example) associates with the capability to add a loyalty card or perform inventory lookup, and giving store managers access to real-time sales data and store reports. Such flexibility reduces training time while also enabling a higher rate of adoption, and improving speed of service. Accessible across multiple platforms and devices, the software even integrates into existing business peripherals, such as receipt printers and scanners, lowering total cost of ownership (TCO).

In addition to helping associates answer customer questions and perform daily operations such as tracking inventory, cross-contacting stores, and checking availability, Dynamics AX ‘s automation technology also provides insight across departments, including ecommerce, contact center, marketing, and social engagements, so all employees are on the same page and can provide a more cohesive and immersive customer experience.

With these new capabilities, in-store employees can leverage the system’s cash and drawer management, loyalty processing, and promotions management tools, while also gaining visibility into supply chain activities, including product purchasing, replenishment, and warehouse planning, so they can direct customers on the latest inventory status and answer questions about future stock. In addition, insights into salesforce activity, including lead, account, and pipeline management can facilitate associate/customer engagement beyond the store’s four walls. By equipping customer-facing employees across the retail value chain with access to business-critical, role-focused data that can be used to fuel stronger customer relationships, the “point of sale” becomes more wide reaching, and transactions are simply a natural output of such interactions, rather than the employee’s sole focus.

Retail Executives Securing Assets, Equipping Associates with Tools to Engage

Knowledgeable, engaged employees are a retailer’s greatest asset, and investing in the technology required to optimize their performance is critical to boosting brand loyalty and ensuring a positive customer experience. By providing associates with insights and visibility into customer and company data, software tools like Microsoft Dynamics AX empower them to turn every interaction into an opportunity—and every
customer into a connection.

Learn more about the author, Brion Reusche.

*Sources:

“Microsoft Dynamics for Retail,” PowerPoint, Slides 7, 12, and 14.

“Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R3 What’s New,” Microsoft, 2014, p.10, http://download.microsoft.
com/download/8/1/C/81CAA099-2356-4BE7-88E4-EE71A1C008E6/Microsoft%20Dynamics%20AX%202012%20R3%20Brochure.pdf.

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