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The Evolving Retailer: Leveraging Online and In-Store Technology to Adapt to a Changing Landscape

January 26th, 2016 Ashley Harbaugh No comments

The retail industry is one of constant transformation. As consumer technology grows and innovates – connecting people with greater convenience and transparency – consumers’ expectations and interactions also change. Why settle for old ways when new ones promise simplicity and ease?

With different channels offering different revenue streams, retail technology offers a crucial way for better managing operations – as well as staying ahead of both the customer and the competition.

Enhance the Customer In-Store Experience

One of the major benefits of shopping in a brick-and-mortar store is the ability to pick up, feel, and try on merchandise before buying. By engaging with customers at each stage of this journey, and by being able to helpfully instruct and guide the customers throughout their buying processes, stores create relationships that lead to repeat purchases.

Using a mobile, modern point of sale system is an important way that store associates can connect with customers browsing in the store. With Microsoft Dynamics AX for Retail POS, store associates can offer customers personalized service, showing them different products that match their interest. Also, store associates can look up customer accounts to get a better understanding of customer shopping patterns and preferences, and can then make informed suggestions.

Coats and Jackets

Microsoft Dynamics AX for Retail POS is a flexible point of sale system fully optimized for mobile. Store associates can show customers different items right on the mobile POS screen, and can look up customers’ past purchase histories.

Optimize Online Presence

With more and more shoppers choosing to make their purchases online, retailers need to make sure their eCommerce sites will attract visitors, and facilitate sales conversions. An eCommerce system must be easy-to-navigate, easy-to-checkout, and appealing to browse.

eCommerce for Microsoft Dynamics provides a user-friendly, easy-to-navigate interface for merchants and shoppers alike – enabling quicker checkouts for customers, and insightful online store management for merchants. With the system’s seamless integration with Microsoft Dynamics ERP and CRM, merchants are able to leverage a powerfully interconnected online selling and IT infrastructure – ensuring customers have access to the most up-to-date prices, inventory, and product information.

Gadgets Online

A sleek, uncluttered eCommerce interface is an important way to connect with customers – and to motivate them to convert. eCommerce for Microsoft Dynamics provides a user-friendly online store platform for shoppers and administrators alike.

Make Mobile-Friendly Online Stores

Smartphones, tablets – it’s not a matter of if people are using them, it’s a matter of how much people are using them. Mobile devices aren’t just for phone calls and text messages – they are key conduits for research, browsing, and making purchases.

eCommerce for Microsoft Dynamics incorporates responsive web design in online stores, enabling the stores to recognize what device a shopper is using, and automatically adjust the design and resolution to the shopper’s screen. By fluidly converting the store to the shopper’s device, merchants ensure that customers on smartphones, tablets, and desktop/laptop computers experience seamless and convenient shopping regardless of device.

Responsive design

Responsive web design provides a seamless shopping experience by enabling online stores to automatically adjust screen size and design to suit a shopper’s device

Create Social Media Connection

Make it easy for your customers to spread the word about your company. With people connected to vast social media networks, allowing them to share your products, and their testimonies, is a remarkably simple, yet productive, form of brand promotion. Because what better way to build trust with potential clients than to have the people they trust endorse you? Adding social media buttons on product pages or marketing collateral makes it easy for clients to show what they like, and what they want.

Building a strong company social media presence is also an important way to get the word out about your company. People want to share new, interesting, cool things, and they want to engage with likable brands. Creating must-visit social channels that listen to shoppers, and share the content they are most interested in, is key to strengthening a significant source of new customers and, most importantly, new conversions.

 

Social Media

Posting visible social media buttons on product pages make it easy for customers to broadcast your merchandise, and help you leverage free promotion.

For More Information

For more information on how technology can bolster retail systems and processes, please email retail@ignify.com.

Ashley Harbaugh is a Marketing Coordinator at Ignify – a Hitachi Solutions subsidiary. Ignify is a Worldwide Microsoft Partner 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.

Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) with Microsoft Dynamics AX

October 21st, 2015 Sandeep Walia No comments

Microsoft Dynamics AX provides a great foundation for customers with its Product Information Management (PIM) capabilities to get light PLM capabilities for a business. In this article, I’ll cover some of the features that provide for good PIM, basic PLM and Product Data Management (PDM) capabilities in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012. While some customers will need specialized PLM software many light manufacturers and assemblers may find the integrated functionality built into Microsoft Dynamics AX ERP sufficient to manage their business.

Product Development and Planning: Microsoft Dynamics AX provides the ability to build a complete product development plan from ideation, prototyping, modeling, tooling, product manufacturing to product release. An example product development plan is shown below.

Product Development and Planning

Product development planning can be done within Microsoft Dynamics AX using its Project Management features. Planning can be at a summary level or detailed level.

Product Mastering: Microsoft Dynamics AX supports a global product master that is common across companies. The product can have multiple product attributes and when released to a company takes on an item number.

Items can have multiple Item Variants through the use of dimensions such as Size, Color, Configuration/ Style. The Item Variants could be considered the equivalent of a Stock Keeping Unit (SKU).

Product Mastering

Product Information Management within Microsoft Dynamics AX allows for a global product master which can be released to companies and have Items and Item Variants (SKUs)

As an example:

Product – Summer Doll

Items: USA Summer Doll, Canada Summer Doll

Item Variants for USA Summer Doll: USA Summer Doll – Pink color in Claudia Style, USA Summer Doll – Purple color in Claudia Style, USA Summer Doll – Pink color in Sylvia Style. USA Summer Doll – Red color in Sylvia Style.

What’s the business benefit of doing this? There are several – let’s start with a manageable product master and Item master. For example if I had a baseball bat in 4 colors, if I don’t use dimensions, I would need to create 4 Item as shown below

Product Mastering Example

Instead look at the example of the warm up pants where I just have one item with over 40 variants with different colors and sizes. I’m able to keep a manageable size product master by artfully using the dimensions.

Product Dimensions within Microsoft Dynamics AX

Product Dimensions within Microsoft Dynamics AX such as Size, Style and Color help make the product master manageable

Product Segmentation and Reporting: Microsoft Dynamics AX allows segmentation of a product with the use of Product Attributes. For example the Cool girlz doll product below is targeted to 6-10 year girls and is launched in Fall 2016 for the USA market. If I needed to analyze my revenues by product s for age segment (6-10 years, 11-15 years, 16-19 years..), I can use the Customer Segment attribute to drive reporting in this example

Product Segmentation and Reporting

Product attributes can be used for reporting and product segmentation

Product Costing with a Bill of Materials: Microsoft Dynamics AX provides full Bill off Material capabilities along with ability to do a cost roll up to get the true cost of manufacturing an item so that product profitability analysis and pricing analysis can be done.  An example of a BOM of the Cool girlz doll referenced before is shown below

Product Costing with a Bill of Materials

In summary, Microsoft Dynamics AX can establish a cohesive ERP-based platform for product management to:

  • Optimize relationships along the product lifecycle and across organizations
  • Set up a single system of record to support diverse data needs, so that the right people see the right information at the right time, and in the right context
  • Increase full price sales
  • Generate savings through re-use of original data
  • Provide a better picture of your true margins
  • Ensure quicker and more reliable quoting with accurate product information
  • Drive top-line revenue through repeatable processes

For more information on product mastering, PLM and comprehensive product data management please email us at dynamics@ignify.com

Sandeep Walia is the CEO of Ignify. 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.

Inbound and Outbound Shipping Processes in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012

August 7th, 2014 Ashley Harbaugh No comments

A company’s inbound and outbound shipping processes are crucial points in the supply chain management process.

Without accurate and timely inbound shipping, a company cannot receive the parts and materials needed for customer orders, and thus cannot effectively fulfill those orders – which lead to unhappy customers.

Similarly, without accurate outbound shipping, a company cannot deliver the parts and materials that a customer orders in a timely manner, and thus cannot effectively fulfill those orders – which again lead to unhappy customers. 

With Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012, companies are able to track inbound and outbound logistics from the beginning to the end of the cycle, ensuring that goods and materials flow efficiently in and out, with companies able to track the progression of each step in the process.

Inbound Shipping

With Microsoft Dynamics AX, companies are able to get an arrivals overview and view all inbound shipments, including purchase orders, warehouse transfers and customer returns.

Inbound Shipping with Microsoft Dynamics AX

Microsoft Dynamics allows you to see all the purchase orders set for arrival.

Inbound Shipping with Microsoft Dynamics AX

With Microsoft Dynamics AX, companies are able to start the arrivals process per line on a PO, helping to keep arrivals visible and shipping arrival tracking accurate. 

With Microsoft Dynamics AX, a company can easily start the arrival process on items that come into the warehouse, and can see all the lines within a PO that is set to arrive. With this procedure, companies gain more insight into the inbound merchandise that arrives, and can store it accordingly.

A company can start an arrival on a PO, and they can also auto-create arrival lines based on pallet capacity. The system can also perform directed put away; in other words, you are able to make the system auto-select pallets and recommended locations according to specific parameters – for example, if certain items should be received and stored in a refrigerated part of the warehouse, etc. 

After transport from the inbound dock to the destination (whether it was done through bulk or picking), a warehouse user can log into Microsoft Dynamics AX to verify that the PO has been received and the inventory updated.

Outbound Shipping

With Microsoft Dynamics AX, shipping templates allow for quick and easy new shipment creation – which means faster conversion from order to fulfillment, and thus greater customer satisfaction. Shipping templates can be automatically created, or Wizard-driven, or even created manually. For example, shipments can be defined by:

  • A mode of transportation (if certain items should be transported by truck, etc.). 
  • Time and location (e.g., all US shipments should be shipped out in the morning).
  • The materials being shipped (e.g., hazardous materials only shipped at certain times or by certain modes of transportation).
  • Customer addresses (grouping orders to customers in the same city, state or zip code).
  • When a shipment can be filled (based on availability of the order lines). 

After the shipment is created in Microsoft Dynamics AX, you can group orders by customer (such as if you have multiple orders from the same customer that will be shipped out), and can transport orders from picking location to the outbound dock.

After shipment is staged for loading and sent, Microsoft Dynamics AX can then create the bill of lading as well as the packing slip.

Outbound Shipping with Microsoft Dynamics AX

When transporting orders from the picking location to the outbound dock, you have control and visibility over all aspects of the transportation process, including the ability to assign a specific forklift to move the order.

After the shipment is sent out, you can then verify on the sales order if the order was delivered to the customer.

Outbound Shipping with Microsoft Dynamics AX

Microsoft Dynamics AX provides full transparency into the order shipment process, from the first stages to the end delivery.

Microsoft Dynamics AX provides a powerful warehouse management system that helps you receive and deliver products with pinpoint accuracy. For more information on how Microsoft Dynamics AX can improve your warehouse operations, please email us at dynamics@ignify.com.

Ashley Harbaugh is a Marketing Coordinator 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, 2011 and 2010. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing businesses for seven years in a row by Deloitte, Inc Magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine from 2007 to 2013.