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Five Ways Hitachi Ecommerce with Microsoft Dynamics AX Simplifies the Buyers Journey

February 23rd, 2016 Manasi Kulkarni No comments

Hitachi Ecommerce with Microsoft Dynamics AX provides business owners an end-to-end ecommerce solution that not only manages their online store efficiently, but also gives merchants an opportunity to function across multiple channels while keeping their inventory and accounts synced and updated at all times. This real-time interaction between Dynamics AX, Hitachi Ecommerce, and the retail store/MPOS during the entire sales order lifecycle ensures customer satisfaction.

Customers can access Hitachi Ecommerce over the internet and view customer-specific catalogue.

Customers can access Hitachi Ecommerce over the internet, and view a customer-specific catalogue and manage their checkout and account. On the back-end, internal staff can manage content, promotions, reporting, and more within the Manager Panel. This is all fully integrated with Microsoft Dynamics AX.

Manage Catalog and Inventory

With Hitachi Ecommerce and Microsoft Dynamics AX, merchants can create a product catalog with both variant and non-variant items, complete with attractive product images, and display it on the online store. When shoppers visit the online store and purchase any product, the same is reflected back in Microsoft Dynamics AX, allowing the merchant to maintain a highly synchronized inventory across all online stores. Similarly, all modifications to prices of items, whether for all shoppers, a select group or even individual customers, are displayed real-time on the online store.

Product catalog in Microsoft Dynamics AX is easy to configure.

The product catalog in Microsoft Dynamics AX is easily configurable by the merchant to maintain inventory across all online stores.

Customer-facing web stores reflects the items set up in Microsoft Dynamics AX.

The customer-facing web store reflects the items set up in Microsoft Dynamics AX.

Provide Multiple Search Filters

Shoppers are increasingly looking at targeted shopping on online stores, and advanced search and filter options are a necessity. The Hitachi Ecommerce solution lets shoppers filter their search results by price as well as stock status, thereby making shopping faster. The shopper can adjust the price filter to his desired price range and browse only those specific products, instead of browsing through the entire catalog. Other search parameters can also be configured depending upon the catalog requirements.

Search parameters are easily adjusted on product listing page.

Search parameters are easily adjusted on the product listing page. The listing can be narrowed by price, category, stock, and more.

Create Promotions and Discounts

Along with managing an updated catalog, the merchant can also create multiple promotions and discounts as per his business needs. Promotions designed for a select group of people, flat discounts across the store, festive offers, etc. are easy to design and manage with the Hitachi Ecommerce with Microsoft Dynamics AX solution. These discounts are either automatically deducted from the order, or the shopper can be required to apply promotion codes to avail them, depending upon the configurations determined by the merchant. The merchant thus has control over how he wants his promotions and discounts to be consumed by the shopper.

Manage Gift Cards

Gift cards/certificates are increasingly being favored by shoppers as it reduces the hassle of browsing through numerous products and stores to find the perfect gift, while allowing the recipient to purchase what he really wants. The Hitachi Ecommerce solution works with Microsoft Dynamics AX and MPOS to allow shoppers to purchase a gift card in-store and redeem on the online store. The gift card number is synced with Dynamics AX when it is purchased via MPOS, and can be used as a valid payment option when purchasing on the online store. In case of any additional payments due towards the sales order, the solution is designed to receive even partial payments using a different payment method. This means that irrespective of the gift card amount, the recipient can shop for whatever he wants.

Utilize Multiple Channels

With Microsoft Dynamics AX and Hitachi Ecommerce it is possible to have a multi-channel store that lets customers place an order on the online store and pick it up in-store at their nearest locations. This is made possible by the Hitachi Ecommerce online store, Microsoft Dynamics AX, and MPOS working in tandem with each other to ensure that a sales order is fulfilled as per the customer needs. The store locator widget makes finding the most convenient store easy for the customer. Allowing customers to pick up their orders in-store also gives the customers the satisfaction of personalized attention, while reducing the costs of shipping and handling for the merchant. This multi-channel capability and presence expands the store’s reach and gives the merchant both online and offline shoppers.Hitachi Ecommerce takes advantage of these five ways to simplify the buyer’s journey to increase conversions. For more information on Hitachi Ecommerce, please visit us.hitachi-solutions.com.

Manasi Kulkarni is a Product Marketer at Ignify – a Hitachi Solutions subsidiary. 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.

Which Should You Choose: A SAAS or an On-Premise eCommerce Solution?

June 8th, 2015 Manasi Kulkarni No comments

Cloud computing and a highly competitive business arena have made SAAS – Software as a Service – solutions popular among business owners (particularly small- to medium-sized business owners). eCommerce businesses can greatly benefit from such SAAS solutions, and this post attempts to lay out the benefits and disadvantages of both SAAS and on-premise eCommerce solutions to help you make an informed decision.

  1. Availability and deployment: As compared to on-premise software solutions, SAAS solutions are more quickly available and can be easily deployed. On-premise solutions may take weeks or even months to deploy from the time you decide to invest in an ecommerce solution for your business. The SAAS solutions do not involve receiving any installation package from the provider, installation of CDs, or involvement of a dedicated IT department to ensure smooth installation and deployment of the software etc. SAAS solutions are available over the internet, and business owners can begin using them simply by signing in within minutes.
  2. Hardware/IT infrastructure requirements: On-premise solutions usually require the business owner to maintain some dedicated hardware and invest towards its regular maintenance and upgrade as per the ecommerce solution’s requirements. While larger businesses might not require any additional hardware procurement, or new procurement might not be an issue, for smaller businesses purchasing and maintaining hardware can mean additional costs that they would rather avoid. SAAS solutions are available over the cloud and do not require the business owner to make any additional investments. The infrastructural requirements are thus significantly reduced.
  3. Solution upgrades: Traditional on-premise installations require the business owner to keep track of and manage software upgrades at his end. This can be a cumbersome activity if a dedicated IT department is not available and if the solution provider is not proactive in providing the upgrades or new releases to the business owner. In comparison, a SAAS solution is maintained entirely by the provider and all upgrades are automatically available to the business owner.
  4. Costing: It follows from the earlier points that SAAS solutions are relatively cheaper to procure and maintain as compared to on-premise installations. With limited hardware requirements, licensing fees, upgrade and maintenance charges, the overall cost of a SAAS solution is significantly reduced. SAAS solutions can also be available as free trials initially, further reducing the costs for the business owner.
  5. Free trials: As mentioned earlier, SAAS solutions are increasingly being offered with a free trial period. These free trials allow the business owner to experience the solution first hand and make an informed decision about if the solution is suited for his business, and if he should make a long-term investment in it. On-premise solutions usually offer only a snapshot of what is available and require the business owner to make a commitment before he can get the whole picture. This could at times mean failed investments as the solution may not fit the business requirements completely.
  6. Customization: With on-premise solutions the business owner can get a customized solution tailored to suit his unique business requirements. The solution provider can make significant modifications to the product and guarantee a perfect fit for the business. However, this may involve additional costs and longer time to deployment. SAAS solutions, on the other hand, may not always render themselves to customization, leaving the business owner dissatisfied with his purchase.
  7. Internet connectivity and performance issue: As SAAS solutions are provided via cloud, your internet availability and speed may hamper the overall performance of the solution. In-house servers and applications usually guarantee greater speed and performance, thereby making on-premise solutions a better option. However, SAAS providers are increasingly overcoming the reliance on internet, and some solutions can now be accessed even when offline or at slower internet speeds.
  8. Data security: As on-premise solutions use in-house servers and other hardware, the concerns of data security are greatly reduced. The business owner has more control over his solution and greater knowledge of who has access to data, or who it is being shared with. In comparison, SAAS solutions are hosted over the cloud and storing sensitive data on third-party servers can be a risky proposition. However, SAAS providers are seen to be increasingly working on reducing these security concerns, and SAAS solutions are now beginning to be a lot more secure than previously imagined.

While each type of solution has its advantages and disadvantages, the Ignify eCommerce solution attempts to reduce the gap between the two, and is available both as a SAAS as well as an on-premise solution, and guarantees complete customer satisfaction in both cases.

Irrespective of whether you are an on-premise or SAAS customer, the Ignify eCommerce solution can be easily installed/deployed, store data securely, provide regular upgrades, is customizable, and works both online and offline without compromising the solution’s performance. Based upon your business requirements, we provide you the best solution that is affordable and easy to use. To learn more about our product, please contact ecommerce@ignify.com.

Manasi Kulkarni is a Product Marketer 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.

Is Your POS System Truly Modern?

June 3rd, 2015 Manasi Kulkarni No comments

Retail businesses, no matter how big or small, have come a long way from the cash register days to web-based POS systems that give greater control to the POS operator.

With a variety of POS players in the market and rapid advances in technology, it is easy for businesses to be confused or settle for a lesser system that does not give the complete benefits of a POS system. We have discussed how to choose a good POS system in a previous post. This post points out some important consequences of using an outdated POS system.

  1. Delays in the checkout process: A slow moving checkout line can frustrate even the best of us, and thus lead to lost sales. Customers greatly value – and therefore come back to – stores with a fast checkout process that is not riddled with avoidable delays. A POS system that is not easy to operate can cause the POS operator to spend longer on processing/completing a sales order, leading to disgruntled customers and fewer sales, and possibly even bad word-of-mouth. All of this could easily have been avoided, however, with an efficient POS system that is easy to use even for a first-time POS operator.
  2. Limited payment options: These days even in-store retail customers like to have multiple payment options available to them, and having such a variety available increases your chances of completing a sale successfully. An up-to-date POS system would let you accept both online and offline payments such as cash, credit card, and check, along with other options such as gift card, vouchers, credit notes etc. You would not have to turn away a customer just because he does not have enough cash on hand or balance on his card, if your POS system is equipped to process multiple payment methods for a single order.
  3. Inability to provide personalized customer service: Even for a retail customer at the checkout counter, personalized service that offers exclusive discounts or loyalty benefits is important. A good POS system lets you offer special discounts/offers to individual customers that are customized as per their purchasing habits or brand loyalty. Creating such discounts is feasible only if the POS system allows the POS operator to store customer data, and pull up discounts set up at the POS backend based on mobile phone number, or email ID, etc. 
  4. Gaps in data integration: For the POS operator, an up-to-date POS system that integrates sales order and customer information with your backend ERP system can make the difference between good and average customer service. If your frontend and backend systems are not in sync, customer and inventory data cannot be utilized to its fullest potential. Just as your POS operator will be limited to simply processing a standard sales order, your backend team would not be able to utilize information to create targeted marketing strategies that are essential to meet your business goals.
  5. Loss of sales due to internet issues: Outdated POS systems can prevent your POS operators from processing sales orders, or from accepting certain types of orders and payment methods simply because the internet connection is down. Conversely, an efficient POS system lets your sales order processing continue seamlessly irrespective of whether you are online or offline, including processing all types of payments, applying discounts, collecting customer data, etc. Such a system will sync back all the information to the backend ERP and ensure your inventory and accounts databases are updated as soon as you are back online.

Ignify provides a comprehensive retail solution that includes a competitive POS system that caters to the requirements of all types of retail businesses, as well as ecommerce channels. The solution can be used across multiple terminals and store locations, thereby allowing you to maintain a uniform system across stores and not worry about your customer’s checkout experience as your business expands.

To learn more about Ignify’s retail systems, contact us at retail@ignify.com.

Manasi Kulkarni is a Product Marketer 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.

10 Tips for Choosing a Good POS System

May 14th, 2015 Manasi Kulkarni No comments

When you are a retailer, the one thing at the top of your mind is streamlining the checkout process and giving your customers efficient service. Having a good point of sale (POS) system can go a long way in ensuring that you not only send out, but also bring back happy customers to your store.

While the competition is high when it comes to choosing the right POS providers, the following pointers could help you narrow down the best one that suits your business needs – please also refer to our infographic for the quick checklist.

  1. Single screen interface: To ensure that your sales executive at the checkout terminal can process items faster, it is important to have a single screen interface that lets you input the item details, review the order details and process the payment. Navigating between multiple screens/windows for these primary functions can be confusing and cause the POS operator to waste precious time.
  2. Ease of use: A single screen interface also lends itself to ease of use that requires minimum training for the POS operator. This should be an important factor in deciding upon your POS system to factor in the various skill levels of POS operators (interns, students, freshers, part-time workers, etc.) at your checkout terminals. Irrespective of whether your POS operator has previous experience using a POS system, he should be able to manage your checkout process efficiently with the POS system in your store.
  3. Ability to function online and offline: The POS system should be able to function seamlessly irrespective of whether you are connected to the internet or not. It is not advisable to have only an offline or online system, as internet downtime for a web-only system can have serious repercussions on your sales. The system should be able to operate offline and then sync your records/transactions with your database once you are online again. 
  4. Flawless payment processing with multiple payment methods: The system should support all types of payment methods such as credit cards, cash, checks, and gift cards etc. as per your business policies. The method of payment should not impact the efficiency of the checkout process, nor should you be required to turn away a customer simply because your system does not accept the customer’s preferred mode of payment.
  5. Customer data encryption/security: One of the most important functions of the POS system that accepts credit cards and stores any form of customer information is to ensure that the information is transmitted and stored securely and in an encrypted format. Assuring the customers that their information is secure will help your gain their trust and repeat business.
  6. Ability to apply promotions/discounts: The various promotions/discounts that you offer your customers should be reflected and applicable via your POS system. Having to tell a shopper that a particular discount is not available to them can lead to a disgruntled customer and cause you to lose his business.
  7. Real-time inventory updates: All sales and modifications to your inventory should be reflected and available real-time to all your sales executives and/or online customers irrespective of the number of stores you operate. This can help avoid backorders for online customers. Inventory management and stock-keeping can be made easier as well.
  8. Connect brick and mortar stores to the web store: Your POS system should be connected to your inventory database and ecommerce web store, while keeping all three in sync at all times. Having two different systems for your physical stores and web store can lead to inventory and accounting management problems. 
  9. Integrated with backend ERP system: If you are already using an ERP system to manage your catalog, inventory, customers and accounts, it is advisable that the POS system integrates with it real-time for most of the basic functions such as sales order placement, inventory updates, etc. Being able to keep your systems in sync at all times helps improve overall business efficiency.
  10. Customizability: There is usually no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to managing your retail stores through POS systems. Based upon your unique business and customer requirements, the POS system provider should be able to provide you a customized solution that helps you maximize your sales and bring efficiency to the checkout process. 

point of sale

ax for retail webinar

For more information on how to choose the right POS solution for your business needs, please email us at retail@ignify.com.

Manasi Kulkarni is a Product Marketer 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.

Win Over Your Customers with Omnichannel Marketing

December 9th, 2014 Manasi Kulkarni No comments

There is a lot of talk about how businesses, whether ecommerce or otherwise, need to market themselves across various social media platforms and through other online marketing avenues such as emails to reach a cross section of their audience. While such multi-channel marketing is becoming central to marketing strategies and is being widely incorporated, the proliferation of devices and customers’ movement across these multiple devices has necessitated that marketing strategies not only advertise on these platforms but also provide the same experience across them all.

This new form of customer centric marketing that is aware of the customer’s behavior and engagement habits across the various platforms, and connects them all with a continuous story about the brand is known as omnichannel marketing. Omnichannel marketing works to give the customer a seamless experience across devices and online as well as offline channels, thereby breaking down any walls that may exist between online and offline marketing.

retail consumer

Today’s retail consumer expects to shop and research products via mobile devices, online resources, and brick and mortar stores before committing to purchase.

This means that a customer may encounter your products on a social media platform or print advertisement, read more about it on your blog and then walk into your retail store while still comparing prices for the same product in other stores on his mobile device. Furthermore, with omnichannel marketing you would have equipped your retail salespersons with the right information about your products, enabling them to be ready for any questions that an informed customer might have, thereby giving your customers a more satisfying shopping experience. Omnichannel marketing thus increases your chances of sales and creates satisfied customers that are more likely to stay loyal to your brand in the long run.

Benefits of omnichannel marketing

omnichannel marketing

Source: DM News

By combining efforts for marketing resources online and offline, the consumer is able to complete more thorough research and make more informed, confident purchasing decisions.

  1. Save duplication of marketing efforts and resources for online and offline mediums with a combined marketing strategy. Such combined efforts make for more relevant, robust, and effective messaging. 
  2. Get higher return on investment for your marketing efforts with higher sales across your online and offline stores. As customers stay longer with your brand both online and offline, the chances of sales increase.
  3. Increase brand retention and loyalty with uniform messaging.
  4. Increase customer engagement and satisfaction with your brand with messaging that is adjusted to their buying habits and online behavior, and gives the impression of a more personalized service.
  5. Opportunity to collect better data about customer behavior and buying patterns across various online and offline channels, enabling you to modify your marketing strategies accordingly to meet their needs and expectations. This consequently helps you market your products better and increase sales and brand loyalty.
  6. Enhance employee productivity by empowering them with product and customer information that can be used to convert leads and walk-ins into sales, while providing a better shopping experience to the customer.

Tips to get started with omnichannel marketing

Whether you are an ecommerce merchant or run a brick-and-mortar retail store, here are some tips to get you started with omnichannel marketing. We shall assume at this point that you have some online presence, either in the form of a web store or on the social media platforms.  

  1. Gather and analyze customer behavior data from both online and offline sources.
  2. Based upon your analysis create a cohesive marketing strategy that ensures that online and offline marketing efforts complement each other.
  3. Create more than one type of messaging and creatives that can be tested for customer response, providing you in depth data about your customers’ shopping behavior.
  4. Ensure theme and design uniformity across various channels such as Facebook, Twitter, banner ads, print ads, in-store advertising, etc. Your creative should ideally be usable across channels, or at least uniform enough that the customer gets the same experience whether he is looking at it in print or on his television, etc.
  5. Personalize engagement with the customer where possible on social media platforms, through email marketing or in-store experience, by managing your messaging to suit their tastes and habits. The customer should be left with the feeling that you had only him in mind when you created the message.
  6. Constantly analyze customer data and make modifications to your strategy until you get the perfect blend that maximizes sales across all your channels.

Ignify eCommerce has you covered

As you start exploring the rather daunting world of omnichannel marketing, Ignify eCommerce helps you in a variety of ways.

Multi-device browsing: With Ignify eCommerce you get responsive web design for your web stores, which means that your customers can browse your web store using any device, such as laptops, mobile, tablets, etc. with the same user experience. Not only is your web store accessible, the customer can also seamlessly carry over his shopping sessions from one device to another with features such as save cart and a self-service account on the web store that store essential information accessible as and when required.

eCommerce responsive web design templates

Ignify eCommerce’s responsive web design templates ensure browsers have an excellent user experience regardless of which device they are using.

Support for Google Analytics: The Ignify eCommerce Manager Panel lends itself easily to have Google Analytics or Google Tag Manager configured on your web stores to help you track and understand customer behavior and plan your omnichannel marketing activities accordingly. Depending upon his business requirements, the merchant may choose to have Google Analytics, both Classic or Universal, or Google Tag Manager on individual web stores. If you have multiple stores, each store could be assigned a different tracking mechanism via the same Manager Panel.

With these tips and tools at hand you can now kick start your omnichannel marketing efforts and stay ahead of the competition.

Manasi Kulkarni is a Product Marketer at Ignify. Ignify is a technology provider of ERP, CRM, eCommerce, and Point of Sale software solutions to organizations. Ignify is winner/finalist of the worldwide Microsoft Partner of the Year Award in 2014, 2013, 2012 and 2011. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing businesses in North America for seven years in a row by Deloitte, Inc Magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine from 2007 to 2013.