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Four Tips to Increase Engagement with B2B Customers

March 30th, 2016 Brianne Schaer No comments

Building long-term relationships is just as relevant to business-to-business (B2B) merchants as it is to their business-to-consumer (B2C) counterparts. Customers will be more willing and excited to shop at your store if they feel valued and receive personalized care. By working to deepen customer relationships, B2B web store owners can increase sales and increase the lifetime value of shoppers.

A number of valuable tools are available to B2B web store owners to increase engagement with customers. Among them are the following four tips that will be discussed in this blog:

  1. Offer a Personalized Experience
  2. Streamline Checkout
  3. Establish Loyalty
  4. Provide Education and Thought Leadership

Offer a Personalized Experience

Creating a personalized experience that will keep customers coming back all starts with understanding their needs. By adjusting not only the content available, but also the look-and-feel of a website, you can make your shoppers feel more comfortable and excited to make purchases. The easier it is for shoppers to find the products they purchase on a regular basis, the more likely they will be to return to your store.

Individual logins for B2B shoppers makes it easy to personalize your online store, ensuring that it is in tune with each shopper’s needs. This allows for custom pricing, custom catalogs, and personalized templates that can be assigned to a particular customer login.

The following examples show the same product listing page, but from two different logins. There are a number of differences between the two logins, including access to additional categories, different color schemes, and different organization.

Single list product view with a quick order option on the right for frequently purchased items with known item number and quantity.

This customer can see products in a single list view, and has access to a quick order screen on the right to easily add items by item number. This is especially helpful to customers who frequently purchase the same items, and already know the item number and quantity needed.

Reduced catalog showing items in a grid view by default.

This template has a reduced catalog and shows items in a grid view by default. This is helpful for customers who are more inclined to browse the catalog before making a purchase.

Streamline Checkout

B2B customers expect an online store to provide an easy-to-use interface for making bulk purchases. Sometimes a B2B shopper will need to browse your product catalog to add items to the shopping cart. Typically, however, B2B customers will already know what they are going to buy before hitting the online store, so your store must provide a way to quickly place orders from a list.

The ability to copy orders saves time for B2B customers that frequently repeat orders. From the “My Account” section, a customer can copy an existing order, including, if they wish, the addresses.

Option to copy individual line items, or both the items and address lines to the new shopping cart.

Customers may choose to copy only the individual line items, or to copy both the items and address lines to the new shopping cart.

Another way to simplify checkout for B2B shoppers is to provide shoppers with the ability to upload their own excel lists with product codes and quantities. Using a Quick Order List, customers can key in item codes to add products to their cart or upload product lists from Excel. This saves time and reduces the need to click through the entire catalog searching for products.

Search items by key words, and add multiple quantities in one go.

Customers can search for items by key word, and add multiple quantities to the order at one go.

Quick Order Lists are as simple as item code and quantity added to an order in one click.

Quick Order Lists are as simple as item code and quantity, and can be added to an order in one click.

- Quick Order Entry screen shows the summary of items before checking out.

The Quick Order Entry screen shows all list items before continuing to checkout.

Establish Loyalty

Open communication is a key component to establishing customer loyalty. By opening doors to communicating across various channels (like social media, online, or over the phone), you are providing your customers an invaluable opportunity to express their likes and dislikes of your store before heading to a competitor.

By actively engaging with customers, you can expect to see a higher retention rate, and a more organic increase in your customer base, since positive feedback can be easily shared across social channels via Facebook or other social media accounts. Closely monitor these social channels to offer thanks for positive feedback, and solutions to negative feedback.

Social media integration for easier communication relevant to B2B and B2C shoppers.

Sharing to social media accounts opens lines of communication, and is just as relevant to B2B shoppers as B2C.

Publish entire storefront to Facebook.

You can even publish your entire storefront to Facebook.

Provide Education and Thought Leadership

Continually provide value to your shoppers to keep them coming to your store. A well-stocked content library can highlight new and underused features of your products, giving potential customers a nudge to purchase these items and try them out for themselves.

Videos, webinars, workshops, blog content, and data sheets are just a few examples of content that can engage and retain your customers. Additionally, effective content adds value to your customers and serves as a key differentiator between your store and your competitors.

Safety information by providing additional information of interest to customers.

A store that offers safety information stands out from the competition by providing additional information of interest to customers.

For more information about increasing engagement with customers or establishing your B2B web store, please contact us at ecommerce@ignify.com.

Brianne Schaer is a Product Marketing Specialist at Ignify – a Hitachi Solutions subsidiary. Ignify is winner/finalist of the Worldwide Microsoft Partner Award in 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010, and offers eCommerce, ERP, CRM, Order Management and POS solutions based on the Microsoft Dynamics line of products. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing business in North America for seven years in a row by Inc. Magazine and Deloitte in the FAST 500 from 2008 to 2013.

How To: Simplify Recruitment with Human Resources in Microsoft Dynamics AX

January 29th, 2016 Brianne Schaer No comments

Whether due to company growth or out of necessity to replace a prior employee, hiring can be a dizzying process to get through. Let Human Resources in Microsoft Dynamics AX navigate you through the time consuming act of reviewing resumes, from matching skills and experience to tracking the status of each applicant. Your recruitment team will thank you for the amount of time saved and lower volume of manual activities once they have Microsoft Dynamics AX’s unique databases and tracking capabilities at their fingertips.

Get the Ball Rolling: Create and Start a Recruitment Project

A recruitment project in Microsoft Dynamics AX enables your team to better manage the recruitment process. By setting up a recruitment project, important information such as the job position and department, the name of the recruiter, and the status of the project are easily accessible and stored in one convenient location.

Anything related to the project or job can be tracked in the recruitment project, and the information can be added to the enterprise portal or other outlets.

To create a recruitment project:

Step 1: Click Human Resources > Common > Recruitment > Recruitment Projects

Step 2: Click New > Recruitment Project

Recruitment window

Step 3: Fill out the form, including the name and description of the project, the department in which it is located, the number of job openings available, and the hiring manager. Define the period during which the recruitment project is active by entering the start date and end date in the open and close date fields.

Recruitment Form

Step 4: Click on Media to add information on where the job will be posted.

Media Details

Step 5: Click Job ads to create the ad to be displayed in enterprise portal.

Job Ads

Step 6: Click Start under Recruitment project status to initiate the recruitment project.

Recruitment Project Status

Information at a Glance: View Application Status and Manage Applications

Keep track of all applicant information within Microsoft Dynamics AX. Information such as interview dates and times, references, competencies, accommodation requests, and personal information can all be stored and easily accessed in Microsoft Dynamics AX. Once an applicant is offered employment, switching his or her status is as simple as one click. By changing the status of an applicant to employed, all of the information will be associated with a new worker record, which reduces data entry and saves time.

To create an application:

Step 1: Click Human Resources > Common > Recruitment > Applications

Step 2: Click Application to create a new application.

Application Window

Step 3: Fill in all necessary fields. Anyone who views the application will have a detailed understanding of who the applicant is, how they found the position, upcoming interviews, and contact information.

Application Window Details

To add competencies:

Step 1: View the current list of applicants by clicking Human Resources > Common > Recruitment > Applicants

Step 2: Select the desired applicant and click on the competency to enter. You can add skills, professional experience, education, tests, certificates and more to better complete the applicant’s profile.

Adding Competencies

To schedule interviews:

Step 1: Click Human Resources > Common > Recruitment > Applications

Step 2: Select the desired candidate and click Applicant interviews. Add new lines in the form or schedule through Microsoft Outlook.

Interview Schedule

Step 3: Enter the date of the interview, start and end time, the person in charge of the interview, location and the status. Note that the interviewer may change the status to completed or canceled.

Track where an applicant is in the recruitment process:

Once your team evaluates the candidate, change the application status to either confirmed (which can send a notice to the applicant to confirm receipt of application), interview (which can send an invitation to interview the applicant), rejection (which can send a rejection letter to the applicant), or canceled (which can send a withdrawal confirmation to the candidate) based on the course of action desired for the candidate’s application process.

Tracking applicant's recruitment progress

Promote from Within: Use Skill Mapping and Gap Analysis to find Current Employees Better Suited for a New Position

Sometimes there is no need to look any further than existing employees to find a perfect fit for an open positon. These resources must not be overlooked, and with Microsoft Dynamics AX you can us a skill gap analysis to compare a person’s skill profile with a profile for a particular job. This allows you to compare a person’s actual skills with target skills. Likewise, you can compare an applicant’s skills to those needed for the job he or she applied for. This comparison identifies strengths and weaknesses in applicants as well as who is the best match for a particular position.

Step 1: Click Human Resources > Inquiries > Skill Analysis > Skill gap analysis job – person

Step 2: Select the worker you are interested in comparing skills, the date, and the job to run the analysis for.

Skill Gap Analysis

Note: by checking the Jobs related to reference box, only jobs that the person is or has been affiliated with will populate the jobs list.

Checking the Jobs Related Reference Box

Found the Best Match? Hire an Applicant

Once your team has evaluated all applicants and determined a fit for the position, it’s time to wrap up the process and hire your top applicant.

To hire someone:

Step 1: Click Human Resources > Common > Recruitment > Applications

Step 2: Select the applicant for hire. Click Hire under application status. Select the Employment start date and click Continue to hire the applicant.

Final stage on hiring the candidate

This is just an introduction to the functionality available within the Human Resources module in Microsoft Dynamics AX. For more information, please email dynamics@ignify.com.

Brianne Schaer is a Product Marketing Specialist at Ignify – a Hitachi Solutions subsidiary. Ignify is winner/finalist of the Worldwide Microsoft Partner Award in 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010, and offers eCommerce, ERP, CRM, Order Management and POS solutions based on the Microsoft Dynamics line of products. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing business in North America for seven years in a row by Inc. Magazine and Deloitte in the FAST 500 from 2008 to 2013.

How to Schedule and Staff Projects Using Resource Management in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012

August 5th, 2015 Brianne Schaer No comments

Schedules, timing, skills, requirements, and job positions all must be taken into consideration when staffing a project. Whether it’s a new project, or one that requires a few extra qualified resources, a project manager must always be ready to search and find those resources with ease. When an urgent email comes in requesting workers for a project, your project managers can rely on the flexible project planning features in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 to plan, create, manage, and control projects in your organization.

Since highly skilled workers are in-demand, it is necessary to have powerful and dynamic booking software to speed resource management processes in your company. The Project Management and Accounting module in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 streamlines managing resources and filling positions for projects. Easily manage and schedule resources for upcoming projects with these powerful features:

  • Visual resource scheduling: View the capacity of resources across the organization in one consolidated view.
  • Project teams and roles: View the capacity of resources across the organization in one consolidated view.
  • Flexible capacity allocation model: View the capacity of resources across the organization in one consolidated view.
  • Group resource booking: View the capacity of resources across the organization in one consolidated view.
  • Global resource pool: View the capacity of resources across the organization in one consolidated view.
  • Competency matching: View the capacity of resources across the organization in one consolidated view.
  • Integration with Microsoft Project: View the capacity of resources across the organization in one consolidated view.
  • Automatic resource scheduling: View the capacity of resources across the organization in one consolidated view.

It all starts with an email requesting staff members. If a project manager receives an email requesting two technical analysts that are available all of September and October 2015 and have HTML and SQL skills, she can head straight to Microsoft Dynamics AX → Project Management and Accounting → Project resources → Resource availability to search and select workers for the project.

Resource Availability Chart

The resource availability chart shows the status of your workers. The color coded chart shows the availability of each resource, with green being fully available, light blue for partially available, dark blue for booked, and red for over booked.

Skills can easily be added and removed in the Worker search criteria. Since we are looking for people with HTML and SQL skills, we have added them in the search, and we need both skills, so we filled in 100 percent in the Worker selection thresholds field on the right.

Powerful updated view shows resources available for the Project.

The powerful, updated view above clearly shows which resources are available and qualified for the project. By changing the view to show months, we don’t even have to scroll to see that Olive Kanter and Katie Jones are available for both months needed.

Worker details shows Title Availability and Contact Information

Hovering over a worker shows their details, including title, availability, and contact information.

And now to book these resources:

Select Multiple Items and Assign One Function to All Selected.

By checking both workers in the list, we can book the two of them in one click. Simply click Hard book on the bottom right, then select Full capacity.

A popup will come on screen showing ongoing projects, including key information like the customer account and project manager.

Select Project to Book Selected Workers.

Select the project for which you want to book the selected workers. In this case, we will staff the “Ecommerce Upgrade” project by checking that line and clicking OK.

Once the workers are added to a project, the grid will reflect the new status by changing from green for available to blue for booked.

By double-clicking on a cell in the chart, the booking details will pop up. In this case, it shows that Olive Kanter is booked for the entire month of October on the Ecommerce Upgrade project. To see more detailed information, click “View full booking details.”

By double-clicking on a cell in the chart, the booking details will pop up. In this case, it shows that Olive Kanter is booked for the entire month of October on the Ecommerce Upgrade project. To see more detailed information, click View full booking details.

The resources assigned to a particular project are also listed in the project record itself. Simply head to Microsoft Dynamics AX → Project Management and Accounting → Projects → All Projects to see all active projects in a list view.

Select the project from the “All projects” list.

Select the project from the All projects list.

The project details will pop up in a new window, and by expanding the “Project team and scheduling” section, we can see the two resources we added to the project. It is also possible to change the role of each worker, and add or delete workers from this view.

The project details will pop up in a new window, and by expanding the “Project team and scheduling” section, we can see the two resources we added to the project. It is also possible to change the role of each worker, and add or delete workers from this view.

For more information on Resource Management in Microsoft Dynamics AX, please email dynamics@ignify.com.

Brianne Schaer is a Product Marketing Specialist at Ignify. Ignify is winner/finalist of the Worldwide Microsoft Partner of the Year Award in 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010, and offers eCommerce, ERP, CRM, Order Management and POS solutions based on the Microsoft Dynamics line of products. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing businesses in North America for seven years in a row by Inc. Magazine and Deloitte in the FAST 500 from 2008 to 2013.

Personalization with Microsoft Dynamics AX: Five Ways to Streamline Your User Interface

July 7th, 2015 Brianne Schaer No comments

We personalize everything: from screensavers to ringtones to the apps in our cell phones. So why not make sure that each user’s workspace within Microsoft Dynamics AX is personalized too?

Microsoft Dynamics AX’s standard display can only take you so far. If you haven’t added some homey touches to make your workspace your own, then it’s time for some housekeeping. By personalizing form views in Microsoft Dynamics AX, end users can expect to speed data entry by minimizing keystrokes to enter required data. Since the entire form will be tailored specifically for each person, they can move with ease between fields because everything is familiar to them and right where they want it.

Easy to read Purchase Order List

This is an easy-to-read purchase order list. The grid is organized to show key data upfront, and in the order of importance. Column names are proportionate to the width of the information therein to maximize space. Other data can still be accessed from the fast tabs in the line details section.

Purchase Order List of Microsoft Dynamics Axs Standard Setup.

This is how a purchase order list can look with Microsoft Dynamics AX’s standard setup. Notice the wasted real estate in the grid due to long column names and unused cells. There is also key data that is hidden in the fast tabs that should be displayed at a glance, in the grid. Additionally, the column order is random and makes finding key data time consuming.

It is not difficult to personalize form views. The following five personalization tricks can transform your form view to the setup of your dreams

  1. Hide and Unhide Fields
  2. Add Fields
  3. Reorganize Column Fields
  4. Rename a Field
  5. Save and Retrieve Different Versions of the Form

1. Hide and Unhide Fields

Hiding Fields.

Right-click on the field you want to hide. Make sure you click on the grid, and not on the column header. Click hide.

Oh no—you now realize you hid the wrong field. Don’t worry, it’s easy to unhide fields.

Unhide Fields.

Simply right-click on any field (again in the grid, not the header) and hover over show. Then select the field you would like to see back on your grid.

2. Add Fields

Reorganize Column Fields: Personalization Form.

Right-click on any field in the grid and click personalize. This will open the personalization form, which reflects the form components in a tree view.

Adding Fields: Click Add Fields Button.

Click the add fields button.

Adding Fields: Select Field to Appear on Grid.

Expand the purchase order lines section, and select the field you would like to appear on the grid. The fields are in alphabetical order. Click add.

Adding Fields: Tree View

Added fields appear in the tree view, with a green plus sign to the left to distinguish them from the standard fields. Note that after you close the personalization form, you must also close and reopen the purchase order form before personalization changes take effect.

3. Reorganize Column Fields

Adding Fields: Click Personalize.

Right-click on the field in the grid that you would like to move and click personalize. This will open the personalization form, which reflects the form components in a tree view.

Reorganize Column Fields: Drag and Drop Fields.

Make sure that the correct field is selected, and click the up button until it appears where you would like it to be in the grid. Note: you can also drag and drop fields to where you would like them. Also note that after you close the personalization form, you must also close and reopen the purchase order form before personalization changes take effect.

Reorganize Column Fields: Line Number Field.

The line number field is now the first field in the grid.

4. Rename a Field

Rename Field: Open Personalization Form

Right-click on the field in the grid that you would like to rename and click personalize. This will open the personalization form, which reflects the form components in a tree view.

Rename Field Type: Name in the Label Section Field.

Type the preferred name in the label section of the field you would like to rename. Click outside of the text box, in the personalization window. Note that after you close the personalization form, you must also close and reopen the purchase order form before personalization changes take effect.

Save and Retrieve with Other Team Members.

In the personalization form, click save to make your new setup available to other members on your team. Name the setup in the popup window and click OK. Note that you will not be able to view this saved setup on your account, since it automatically saves to your user.

Save and Retrieve: Click Retrieve from User Button.

In the personalization form, click the retrieve from user button to access another user’s saved setup. Double-click on the users name in the popup window.

Save and Retrieve: Double Click Name Organization.

Double click on the name of the configuration you would like to use. Note that after you close the personalization form, you must also close and reopen the purchase order form before personalization changes take effect.

This is just a snapshot of all of the ways you can personalize your user interface within Microsoft Dynamics AX to best suit your individual needs. For more information on Microsoft Dynamics AX, please email dynamics@ignify.com.

Brianne Schaer is a Product Marketing Specialist at Ignify. Ignify is Worldwide Microsoft Partner in 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, and 2010, and offers eCommerce, ERP, CRM, Order Management and POS solutions based on the Microsoft Dynamics line of products. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing businesses in North America for seven years in a row by Inc. Magazine and Deloitte in the FAST 500 from 2008 to 2013.

City of Long Beach and Microsoft form a ‘Digital Alliance’

July 1st, 2015 Brianne Schaer No comments

Ignify is proud to call the city of Long Beach our home. Headquartered in downtown Long Beach since 2011, we have embraced the city’s laid-back atmosphere while still working to provide the highest level of software services to maximize efficiency and streamline business processes.

Our Microsoft Dynamics AX customer, The Port of Long Beach, supports more than 30,000 jobs in Long Beach and is recognized internationally as one of the world’s best seaports. Ignify’s partnership with the Port has led to improved operating efficiency due to automated financial processes and increased visibility into reporting and analytics.

As a Microsoft Partner with strong ties to the city of Long Beach, we would like to share the collaboration between Microsoft and the Long Beach City Council to form a Digital Alliance. The Digital Alliance program was launched in 2012 in Washington, D.C. and aims to bring increased technology access, education and training to students, residents, and small businesses.  

Check out the article below, released by the City of Long Beach.

The Long Beach City Council has agreed to collaborate with the Microsoft Corporation to bring Digital Alliance programs to the City and its residents. Partnering with local governments, Microsoft provides staff expertise and capacity building workshops designed to inspire young people as well as entrepreneurs.

“This new partnership is part of our commitment to creating a tech culture and economy in Long Beach,” said Mayor Robert Garcia. “Microsoft is a global leader in innovation and I'm excited that they are going to leverage their expertise and talent to support workforce and economic development programs for local residents and students.”

Currently, two types of events are proposed in Long Beach: Digi Camps and a BizSpark session. Digi Camps, which offer separate sessions for girls and boys, give kids a chance to take on technology challenges through small-group work, interact with Microsoft executives, and learn more about technology-related careers. The BizSpark session will serve local entrepreneurs and demonstrate how technology can simplify everyday tasks, increase their productivity, reduce business operations costs, and grow their business.

“By combining the numerous digital and training assets of Microsoft with the Mayor and City of Long Beach’s focus on education and investing in the technology sector, we know that this relationship will empower the citizens of Long Beach to realize their full potential,” said Tori Locke, General Manager for Microsoft’s State and Local Government business. “Microsoft is excited to support the City in its efforts to create more economic development and educational resources for the businesses and youth in Long Beach.”

The City and Microsoft will determine the best dates and locations for the events. Once planned, up to 100 girls, 100 boys, and 200 local business owners will be able to participate.

Brianne Schaer is a Product Marketing Specialist at Ignify. Ignify is Worldwide Microsoft Partner in 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, and 2010, and offers eCommerce, ERP, CRM, Order Management and POS solutions based on the Microsoft Dynamics line of products. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing businesses in North America for seven years in a row by Inc. Magazine and Deloitte in the FAST 500 from 2008 to 2013.