As the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to explode, connecting all manner of devices with the Internet, consumers are interacting with omnichannel retailers in ways never before possible, leveraging technology across a variety of devices and mediums in a marketplace that is more competitive than ever in the quest to attract and retain this discerning buyer audience. Within this new paradigm, instant feedback, timely support, and real-time communication are features that are not merely “nice to have,” but expected and necessary to secure brand loyalty.
Retailers and Big Data: Leveraging Technology to Drive Smarter Business
For retailers, keeping pace with this shift in customer culture also boosts profitability—a recent report by IDC Retail Research cites that the omnichannel shopper spends 30 percent more than the single-channel shopper, making investment in omnichannel integration a top CIO consideration for 2015. The output of these customer-to-retailer (and vice versa) interactions is a collection of information known as “Big Data”—the structured and unstructured insights into customer behavior and business performance accumulated as retailers and consumers interact across the IoT.
Retailers armed with the right technology tools are leveraging this knowledge to drive more targeted campaigns, as well as smarter Product Intelligence strategies, embedding systems with the capability to monitor product performance for more accurate decision-making—a trend that shows strong growth in the retail sphere, with IDC estimating that by the end of 2016, Product Intelligence will determine and inform more than 80 percent of pricing decisions made by the top 10 e-commerce retailers.
Accuracy and Acumen: ERP Systems Add Business Value across Platforms
Regardless of how widespread or concentrated a retailer’s omnichannel interactions are, of critical importance is the centralized system that underpins them, making it easy to capture business data across the enterprise, so all employees are equipped with real-time visibility into team performance, product availability, manufacturer timelines, and more.
To achieve this kind of visibility, industry-leading retailers are leveraging Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions that allow them to manage information across business activities—an essential consideration as they look to engage across “third platform” technologies such as mobile devices, cloud services, and social media networks, which are predicted to guide both customer and operations strategies of three times as many retailers in 2017 as they do today.
Omnichannel Retail Optimization: How Microsoft Dynamics AX Fits the Bill
As the market’s first and only single-commerce engine capable of creating a complete omnichannel experience, Microsoft Dynamics AX ERP is an end-to-end retail solution that seamlessly integrates and coordinates channel engagement (from modern e-commerce and Point-of-Sale transactions to in-store operations), merchandising, and customer care—all critical elements of a holistic customer experience that provides a single retail face to the customer and boosts brand recognition.
With Dynamics AX, associates also have immediate access to valuable customer data, including purchase history, buying preferences, and wish lists, as well as operational updates such as inventory availability affected by supply chain disruptions, used to deliver more meaningful campaigns and increase opportunity for upsell. Additionally, the software’s powerful, built-in data analytics tools provide executives with deep visibility into performance, presented in customizable dashboards and reports, so they can track patterns and trends in customer behavior and company performance.
A Look Ahead: ERP and the Connected Retailer
IDC predicts IoT analytics to grow at a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 30 percent, making it clear that successful retailers will no longer be able to rely on legacy systems to handle Big Data and the analytics required to turn that information into actionable, profitable insight. Not only are these older systems time-consuming and resource depleting to operate, but most are ill-equipped to handle the workload Big Data brings with it and unprepared to fully guard against data loss or misuse.
ERP systems such Microsoft Dynamics AX, however, appear to be perfectly positioned to bring retailers profitably into the future, able to support day-to-day retail operations while also fueling omnichannel engagement and powerful analytics, providing a firm foundation for growth—both enterprise and industry-wide.
Learn more about the author, Brion Reusche.
“IDC Reveals Worldwide Retail Predictions for 2015,” IDC Retail Insights, p.1, November 4, 2014, http://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=prUS25233514.
“Microsoft Dynamics for Retail eCommerce & Social,” Video, http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics/retail.aspx.
“IDC Reveals Worldwide Big Data and Analytics Predictions for 2015,” IDC Press Release, December 11, 2014, http://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=prUS25329114.