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Ignify Wins the 2012 Microsoft Dynamics Partner of the Year Award

June 26th, 2012 Ashley Harbaugh No comments

The product development and implementation teams here at Ignify are always hard at work trying to create powerful, user-friendly software systems, as well as provide our clients with attentive service. Thanks to their great efforts, Ignify is proud to announce that it has won the 2012 worldwide Microsoft Dynamics Partner of the Year Award in the Retail category.

The Microsoft Dynamics Retail Partner of the Year Award honors the Microsoft Dynamics partner who exhibited excellence in providing superior solutions based on Microsoft Dynamics to customers in the retail industry. The winner demonstrated industry knowledge and expertise, as well as consistent, high-quality, predictable service to Microsoft Dynamics customers. They also demonstrated business leadership and success through strong growth in new customer additions and revenue.

Understanding that retail clients have demanding needs and require a multi-channel solution, Ignify works closely with clients in developing and delivering the optimal solutions for serving their mobile, online, phone, product catalog, and in-store requirements. Ignify provides a comprehensive software system for every facet that a retail business requires, combining technologies such as Microsoft Dynamics AX ERP, Ignify eCommerce, Microsoft Dynamics AX for Retail Point-of-Sale (POS), and Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

Continual investment in Ignify’s technology offerings is a key factor in the innovation and implementation excellence that give Ignify clients a business advantage. Ignify has invested over $6 million dollars in developing the intellectual property for the Ignify eCommerce product, creating a multi-currency, multi-country, global packaged e-commerce solution. Based on Microsoft technology, the Ignify eCommerce system provides out-of-the-box support for merchandising functionality, marketing promotions, catalog management etc., providing a comprehensive system for advancing brand awareness and ensuring a higher outreach to both existing and potential customers.

Ignify has made over 25 releases of Ignify eCommerce, with the last major version – version 6.0 – marking a significant upgrade that contained more than 300 new features. As a reflection of the success of these product developments, Ignify eCommerce has currently processed over $10 billion in online revenues for retailers across 350 web stores.

In addition, Ignify launched Order Entry for Microsoft Dynamics, a solution that provides customers with the ability to do phone and catalog orders through a web interface. The Order Entry solution is tablet optimized and allows for highly efficient order entry with a Microsoft Excel grid like format. Overall, this system provides a rich set of features for salespersons and customer service representatives to quickly and easily create new orders, view order history for a customer, and edit or update orders.

As a testament to its commitment to customer learning, Ignify has invested in building a Microsoft Dynamics Experience Center in its Downtown Long Beach office that brings together a complete solution in an environment that allows customers to try them out.

For example, the Experience Center has a tablet Point-of-Sale running Microsoft Dynamics AX for Retail with a touch screen where orders can be entered, multiple eCommerce stores that are integrated with Microsoft Dynamics AX, and a deployment of Microsoft Dynamics CRM that displays a 360-degree view of customer behavior. This unique environment allows customer to explore the Microsoft Dynamics and Ignify eCommerce technologies, and enables them to educate themselves in transforming their business.

Congratulations again to all the Ignify team members who made this award possible. We look forward to continuing our focus on creating business software solutions that improve business productivity, and providing our customers with the best possible service.

Ashley Harbaugh is a Product Marketing Specialist at Ignify. Ignify is a technology provider of CRM, eCommerce and ERP, software solutions to businesses and public sector organizations. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing business in North America for 5 years in a row by Deloitte, Inc Magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine and ranked as one of 100 most innovative companies in the world in the Red Herring Global 100 in 2011.

3 Ways to Revamp the Business-to-Business ecommerce offering

June 22nd, 2012 Ashley Harbaugh No comments

Every business has to continually find a better way to engage with its customers and differentiate itself from its competitors. The reason that a customer chooses a certain vendor for products or services is if they find that the vendor delivers value. An ecommerce store can be a huge differentiator for a Business to Business organization. By offering a superior experience, one where customers can quickly and easily purchase the things they need, you ensure that your customers are receiving value for their time and investment. When customers appreciate that they’re getting value from working with you, this translates to higher customer satisfaction rates, higher customer retention, and ultimately higher revenues.

Now is the perfect time to revitalize your online store. With the economy recovering, now more than ever businesses are seeking out vendors and resellers for products and services. According to an article in E-Commerce Times, while business-to-consumer e-commerce gets a lot of hype, "for every small business that markets their products and services to consumers, at least three other small businesses sell primarily to other businesses."

Take a look at these three different tips for making sure your business-to-business online store is best designed to give you an edge over your competitors.

1. Segment Your Customers

In order to more effectively communicate with your customers, and to better provide them with the services and products they need, set up different customer categories. For instance, your results will be less than optimal to run a promotion geared specifically toward retailers to also send to your manufacturing customers. By segmenting your customers, you’re able to get the most out of your customer interaction, with both you and your customers deriving greater value from it.

Ignify ecommerce provides you capability to easily segment your customers. The different categories you can create and assign to your customers can be Corporate Customer, Reseller, Government Customer, etc., with individualized rules for each customer category. By setting up these rules, you enable your customers to perform (or not perform) specific actions according to their customer classification.

With the Excel-like interface of the Ignify eCommerce Manager Panel, you can filter your customer base down to a particular customer category, and then view the order history details of each individual customer in that category.

For example, you can allow certain customer categories to have different payment methods. So for example, you can specify that retail customers can only pay by credit card, but corporate customers can either pay by credit card or put an order on their account. You can also determine whether certain customer categories should be charged for tax (e.g. no tax for resellers), and you can also restrict shipping methods by customer category (e.g. no FedEx One Day for Government Customers). And, just like with payment methods, you can also set up default shipping methods according to customer category as well.

Be sure to check out another article on how to improve customer segmentation and customer profiling for more successfully tailored marketing campaigns.

2. Personalize the Online Experience

One important business-to-consumer store technique that business-to-business companies can benefit by incorporating into their own online stores is providing customers a personalized web experience.

In the consumer world, one of the things that really sets a store apart from others is a personal shopper service – you know you’re not in any run-of-the-mill place when that’s offered. Personal shopper services impart an air of high class and sophistication, giving customers the sense that this store caters to a cream-of-the-crop clientele, and values going above-and-beyond in fulfilling customer service expectations. And for the customers who use those fancy personal shopper services, the additional attention and care to their needs and wants establishes a higher level of trust and loyalty with the company, and creates a higher rate of returnees.

This principle of giving customers additional attention is one that pays off for business-to-business companies as well as it does for business-to-consumer companies, so it’s definitely smart to implement it, feature it, and build around it. Wondering how exactly you can give business-to-business customers this hands-on, personal shopper experience with your online store?

Using Ignify eCommerce, you have the ability to personalize a store with items, pricing, and discounts based on the customer who’s visiting the store. You can configure the store product catalog, even the look-and-feel of its user interface, according to the customer who logs on to your site. By providing an online store tailored to a customer’s needs, you show your commitment to providing high-quality customer care – leading inevitably to happy customers, and, with the increased revenues secured from these customers, a happy company.

One example of a way to customize your online store to each customer is by offering different prices on products to different customer categories. For instance, you can determine different purchasing levels that your customers can earn, and then set prices to reflect those levels. So, say you have three tiers of customer purchasing hierarchies – Silver, Gold, and Diamond. If a customer reaches the specified purchasing amount that constitutes a certain level, then that customer benefits from receiving the discounts associated with that level. For example, a customer that reaches Silver can get 5% off on each order; a customer that reaches Gold can get 10% off on each order; etc.

Create customer level pricing on product categories or specific items. Different customers see different pricing when logged in.

In addition to providing general discounts based on customer purchasing levels, you can also set up item category discounts per customer level. With these, you offer varying prices of products in item categories for the different customer levels. For example, you can offer 5% off on items in the book category for Silver level customers; 10% off on items in the electronics category for Gold; etc. And you can also assign discounts to individual products for each customer level instead of by category.

3. Make Order Entry as Efficient as Possible

For customers using a vendor to secure the products crucial for running their business, it’s a no-brainer that they’d want to order items as quickly and painlessly as possible. Giving customers a speedy and efficient order entry system is a surefire way to establish goodwill and make them return.

With Ignify eCommerce, customers can log in to their accounts and easily search for an item by keyword, item number, or by product categories. If a customer has a go-to list of products they routinely purchase, they can also easily create order lists containing these items and purchase them when the time is right. So for example, if a retail company orders specific items for the holiday season from a vendor every year, the retail company can create a list in their account in which those items are already entered – enabling a simple, straightforward purchase experience. Order lists can also have products added to it, allowing businesses to continually keep their lists accurate and up-to-date.

Customers also have the option of taking an existing product list that’s in an Excel format – a list that contains item SKU codes and quantities – and transferring that list to an order, and subsequently completing a purchase. A shopper doesn’t need to navigate through various catalog pages to locate products; they are all instantly and easily accessible for a fast checkout.

Quick and effective order entry, with the ability to use item attributes, keywords and order lists, is a key factor in boosting customer satisfaction.

To get even more insight on how to enhance your company’s order entry processes, take a look at our articles on better managing customer’s sales orders with Ignify’s Order Entry solution, and finding out the target number of clicks for entering a sales order efficiently.

All about Connection

The common goal that these three different tips share is connection. Creating an e-commerce environment where your customers feel that your company is in-tune to their needs is essential for making lifelong, loyal customers. And by increasing your customer retention, you solidify your foundation for future business success. If you would like more information on how to tailor your e-commerce channel for success, email us at ecommerce@ignify.com.

Ashley Harbaugh is a Product Marketing Specialist at Ignify. Ignify is a technology provider of CRM, eCommerce and ERP, software solutions to businesses and public sector organizations. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing business in North America for 5 years in a row by Deloitte, Inc Magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine and ranked as one of 100 most innovative companies in the world in the Red Herring Global 100 in 2011.

Event Handling in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012

June 21st, 2012 Khushhal Garg No comments

Today, I am going to talk on the event handling mechanism in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012. With the event-handling mechanism in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 you can lower the cost of doing development and then upgrading these customizations.

Events are a simple and yet powerful concept. In daily life, we encounter with so many events. Events can be used to support these programming paradigms.

  • Observation: Generate alerts to see exceptional behavior.
  • Information dissemination: To convey information to right people at right time.
  • Decoupling: The consumer doesn’t need to know about the producer. Producer and Consumer can be sitting in totally different applications.
  • Terminology: Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 events are based on .NET eventing concepts.
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  • Producer: Object to trigger the event.
  • Consumer: Object to consume the event and process logic based on the event triggered.
  • Event: An action that needs to be triggered
  • Event Payload: Information that can go along with event.
  • Delegate: Definition that is passed to trigger an event. Basically, communicator between producer and consumer

Things to remember while using Events in AX2012

  • Delegate keyword to use in delegate method.
  • Public or any other accessibility specifier is not allowed in a delegate method.
  • Delegate Method return type must be void.
  • Delegate Method body must be empty.
  • A delegate declaration can have the same type of parameters as a method.
  • Event handlers can run only on the same tier as the publisher class of the delegate runs on.
  • Only static methods are allowed to be event handlers.
  • Delegate method can’t be called outside class. Basically, events can’t be raised outside class in which event is defined.
  • Event handlers for host methods can use one of two parameter signatures:
    • One parameter of the type XppPrePostArgs. Go through all the methods available in XppPrePostArgs.
    • The same parameters that are on the host method that the event handler subscribes to.

Now, let’s talk about how to use events in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012.

  1. Let’s create a class Consumer to create EventHandler (sendEmailToCustomer). This will be called once order is shipped so that email can be sent to customer to notify. It has to be static method.

  2. Now let’s create Producer class where this event (sendEmailToCustomer) is called using Delegates. Add delegate by right clicking on Producer class > New > Delegate.

  3. Change its name to delegateEmail (you can have any name). Parameter should be same as event handler method (sendEmailToCustomer) i.e. of type Email. Notice it has no body and is a blank method.

  4. Now drag and drop sendEmailToCustomer method from Consumer class to delegateEmail

  5. Look at properties of EventHandler. You will notice it is pointing to Class Consumer and method sendEmailToCustomer

  6. If order is not shipped, I am creating another event handler (errorLog) in Consumer class to log error into error log.

  7. Create another delegate method (delegateErrorLog) in Producer class to call this event handler (errorLog)

  8. Drag and drop event handler (errorLog) in delegate method (delegateErrorLog) similar to step 4.
  9. Now let’s create main method in Producer class to ship order and let’s see how delegates can be used to trigger event handlers.

  10. Suppose shipOrder method returns true. Now, if I run this main method, it should go into delegateEmail method and should trigger method sendEmailToCustomer. Let’s run and see the result.
  11. Here is the result and it is as expected so it did trigger method sendEmailToCustomer.

  12. Let’s suppose shipOrder method returns false. Now, if I run this main method, it should go into delegateErrorLog method and should trigger method errorLog. Let’s run and see the result.

  13. Here is the result and it is as expected so it did trigger method errorLog.

  14. Handlers can also be added or removed

    Add Handler: It uses += sign.

    Remove Handler: It uses -= sign.

  15. Now, let’s use addStaticHandler in main method. If you see the code, it is calling addStaticHandler before calling delegate method. If we run it and see the result, it should send 2 emails.

  16. Here is the result as expected.

  17. Similarly if we use removeStaticHandler method instead of addStaticHandler before calling delegate method then it will remove handler and will not send any email.

So, you can see that with the use of delegates and event handlers, it is so easy to trigger events. Also, it will be easy and less time consuming to upgrade it. Suppose if delegates are called from standard methods while doing customizations then it will be so easy to upgrade if standard methods are changed in next release because only 1 liner code of calling delegate method needs to be rearranged and no changes will be required in event handler methods.

Use of Pre and Post event handlers

In Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012, any event handler method can dropped in other method. If the property "CalledWhen" is set to "Pre" then it becomes pre event handler. If it is set to "Post" then it becomes post event handler. Pre event handler is called before the method under which it is dropped and Post event handler is called after method ends. These are so powerful that event handler method can be created in new class and can be dropped in any standard or any other method without changing a single line of code and can be set as pre or post event handler as per business need. Suppose, before creating a customer in AX, business need is to do some business logic then logic can be written in pre event handler and can be dropped in insert method of CustTable. Similarly, if there is post logic to be written after customer is created then post event handler can be created and dropped in insert method of the Customer Table (CustTable).

Let’s see how pre and post event handler methods can be created and used.

  1. Let’s take same example. I added 2 event handler methods in Consumer class.

  2. Drag and drop both these event handlers in method sendEmailToCustomer

  3. Set property "CalledWhen" to Pre for EventHandler1 and Post for EventHandler2.

  4. Now let’s run main method of Producer class again and see the results. It should call EventHandler1 and then sendEmailToCustomer and then EventHandler2.

  5. Here is the result as expected.

With use of events, it has opened so many doors and possibilities. Model architecture and events can be integrated which can help if multiple vendors are doing customizations in different models so that it doesn’t impact customizations of other models/vendors. Use of pre and post handlers is so powerful that it can be used without changing a single line of code in original method. Pre or Post handlers can be just dropped in the original method and will be called automatically before (pre handler method) or after (post handler method) original method.

Stay tuned for more technical tips on Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012.

Khushhal Garg is a Technical Manager of Microsoft Dynamics AX at Ignify. Ignify is a leading provider of Microsoft Dynamics ERP solutions to mid-market and Enterprise businesses. Ignify has been ranked as Microsoft Partner of the Year Winner in 2011 and 2010 and in the Microsoft Dynamics Inner Circle, Microsoft Dynamics Presidents Club in 2009. Ignify has offices and team members in Southern California, Northern California, Arizona, Tennessee, Illinois, Washington, Canada, Singapore, Malaysia, India, Philippines.

Ignify Customer Port of Long Beach Receives CIO Award

June 19th, 2012 Ashley Harbaugh No comments

Ignify is proud of the recognition our customers receive for their business accomplishments, and we’re glad to announce another award that one of our distinguished customers have earned: Doug Albrecht, CIO of the Port of Long Beach, received the 2012 CIO Award from the Los Angeles Business Journal. Recipients of the 2012 CIO Award were honored at a special reception on Thursday, June 14, at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Business Journal’s CIO Awards honor individuals in top information technology positions within organizations who play vital roles in making Los Angeles businesses, institutions and nonprofit groups successful.

Doug Albrecht has been a cornerstone figure in implementing the business and technology initiatives responsible for the Port of Long Beach’s outstanding economic development. His division helps the Port achieve its strategic goals by improving business processes and implementing business-critical systems that make the organization more effective. He is also responsible for providing technology expertise internally to the organization, and for ensuring that the Port’s technology users deliver the highest customer service through continuous service improvement. Ignify is glad to partner with the Port of Long Beach in creating and implementing the software solutions that assist in streamlining processes and enhancing productivity.

Doug Albrecht, CIO of the Port of Long Beach (center), is joined by Port of Long Beach colleagues Mike Fetner, System Adminstrator (left), and Charles Mallory, Assistant Director Information Management (right).

One particularly important technological and business project that the Port of Long Beach worked on with Ignify was the re-organization and streamlining of the Port’s financial and analytical reporting systems. With such a high volume of vessels and cargo to track, the business software previously responsible for helping the Port of Long Beach monitor their operations required the manual processing of shipping documents, vessel information, and billing, which created a massive amount of paperwork. This system not only slowed processing efficiency, it also made it difficult to get a clear view of management information for decision making.

The Port of Long Beach partnered with Ignify to fulfill critical IT requirements by implementing Microsoft Dynamics AX. This system enabled the Port of Long Beach to eliminate time-consuming practices and improve operational efficiency by automating the invoicing and accounts receivable processes; increase oversight of revenue recognition and analytical reporting systems; enhance productivity; and provide complete visibility of Port processes.

Mr. Albrecht was also the keynote presenter at Ignify’s CXO Breakfast Event in May 2012, offering crucial insights to other business and technology leaders on how the Port utilizes Microsoft Dynamics AX software, and the significant advantages this system and the Port’s IT infrastructure provides business operations.

Congratulations again to Doug Albrecht and the Port of Long Beach team!

Ashley Harbaugh is a Product Marketing Specialist at Ignify. Ignify is a technology provider of CRM, eCommerce and ERP, software solutions to businesses and public sector organizations. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing business in North America for 5 years in a row by Deloitte, Inc Magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine and ranked as one of 100 most innovative companies in the world in the Red Herring Global 100 in 2011.