Balaji Balasubramanian - General Manager, Dynamics 365 Commerce
Over the last several months, we have continued to see the agility and resiliency shown by businesses across the globe in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout the holiday trading period, we saw businesses adapt to new customer needs across digital channels, along with enhancing and streamlining in-person buying experiences. As vaccines become available, many retail businesses are looking at the future shopping needs of their customers and what the return to in-store buying will mean for customer experiences. Along with this, business-to-business (B2B) buying has also been transitioning from in-person to more digital and self-service buying options for accounts and partners.
Building atop the great features released in Microsoft Dynamics 365 Commerce 2020 release wave 2, we are bringing additional capabilities to Dynamics 365 Commerce 2021 release wave 1, grounded in intelligence to help businesses meet the needs of their customers across consumer-facing and business-to-business segments. We are delivering innovation across the following key investment areas:
- New digital commerce capabilities to further enhance customer experience and business outcomes: We continue to build upon the foundation e-commerce capabilities including announcing the general availability of B2B e-commerce capabilities on a single connected platform.
- Enhancements through ingrained intelligence to drive growth and efficiencies: Utilize enhancements with AI and machine learning to further improve insights into business operations and deliver differentiation.
- Expand on omnichannel capabilities to improve business performance: We continue to invest in core capabilities that support unified commerce capabilities along with enhancements with broader Microsoft and Microsoft Dynamics 365 solutions.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the new capabilities and highlights we are bringing to our customers within the Dynamics 365 Commerce 2021 release wave 1.
Build rich, relevant, and intuitive digital commerce experiences for every customer
With the acceleration of digital commerce channels amidst COVID-19, we continue to invest in building the best e-commerce platform available on the market. With the addition of business-to-business e-commerce capabilities for Dynamics 365 Commerce, we are bringing intelligent and user-friendly features available in business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce to business partners.
B2B e-commerce capabilities now available: B2B e-commerce capabilities for Dynamics 365 Commerce enables organizations in varied industry segments to digitize their B2B transactions with personalized, user friendly, and self-serve driven B2C e-commerce-like experiences while still providing the unique capabilities needed for a B2B user to be productive in their job function.
As e-business teams look for solutions in the market, not only are they benchmarking their future-state online buying experience against B2B peers, but also against B2C leaders. They need solutions with a best-in-class foundation of B2C features, such as robust marketing and merchandising and experience management tools. With this release, we are bringing a range of B2B e-commerce capabilities to market including partner onboarding, order templates, quick order entry, account statement and invoicing management, and more. In addition, we are delivering native integration to Dynamics 365 Sales and Dynamics 365 Customer Service for unified customer engagement across touchpoints. Unique B2B capabilities such as contract pricing, quotes pricing lists, e-procurement, product configuration and customization, guided selling, bulk order entry, and account, contract, and budget management can also be layered on top of our rich e-commerce capabilities to deliver a great buying experience for every partner.
Enhanced search engine results: Improve SEO rankings for product landing and display pages to enable quicker page discovery through native support for schema.org/product metadata. Product pages can utilize existing Dynamics 365 Commerce headquarters product data to simplify and streamline merchandising workflows.
Enhancements through ingrained intelligence to drive growth and efficiencies
Unlock immersive AI-powered intelligent shopping features that enable more personal and relevant shopping experiences for every customer.
Shop similar looks: Bring fresh and appealing choices to the forefront of the shopping experience using the power of AI and machine learning. The effect can be transformative and can create additional selling power as shoppers find more of the things they want in an easy-to-use visual experience.
Shop by similar description: This recommendations service enables customers to easily and quickly find the products they need and want (relevant), find more than they had originally intended (cross-sell, upsell), all the while having an experience that serves them well (satisfaction). For retailers, this functionality helps drive conversion opportunities across all customers and products, resulting in more all-up sales revenue and customer satisfaction.
System monitoring and diagnostics across in-store and e-commerce: Access to system diagnostic logs allows better visibility for IT administrators and enables improved time to detection, time to mitigation, and time to resolution of live-site incidents. IT administrators are able to determine key contributing factors of incidents, which allows for targeted engagement with Microsoft support teams, or with implementation partners, ISVs, or other stakeholders.
Cloud-powered customer search (preview): Customer data is the lifeblood for businesses, and yet almost all businesses run into the problem of duplicate customer records because of inefficient customer search algorithms. If cashiers are not able to easily find a customer, they end up creating new customers. With this enhancement, businesses will be able to easily switch their current customer search experience from SQL-based search to cloud-powered search to gain performant, relevant, and scalable search capabilities.
Expand on omnichannel capabilities to improve business performance
We continue to see the rapid evolution of technologies supporting business, employee, and customer shopping experiences. With this, comes the need to deliver tools that span across channels to streamline purchasing experiences and empowers staff to perform at their best. In this release, we are continuing to invest in making Dynamics 365 Commerce the best solution for omnichannel shopping and bringing new capabilities to customers and frontline workers alike.
Better together with Microsoft Teams: Administrators now can provision Microsoft Teams from Dynamics 365 Commerce and create teams for stores, add members from a store’s worker book, and more in Microsoft Teams, and synchronize the changes in the future. They can also notify frontline workers on mobile devices and synergize task management between Dynamics 365 Commerce and Microsoft Teams to improve productivity.
Additional features and improvements to Curbside Pickup
In today’s world, it is important that organizations can offer safe and flexible fulfillment options to meet their customers’ ever-changing needs. Building on Dynamics 365 Commerce’s existing capabilities that enables buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS), Dynamics 365 Commerce now offers additional features to optimize convenient and COVID safe curbside pickup. These capabilities will make it easier for businesses to deploy mobile POS devices and allow their store associates to efficiently manage orders that need to be fulfilled and picked up. With this release, we have added the following features and improvements to Dynamics 365 Commerce:
- Ability for shoppers to set their preferred pick-up location on E-Commerce channel.
- Ability for businesses to offer multiple pickups and delivery options for shoppers to choose from.
- Flexible configuration of pickup time slots per day by location and allowing shoppers to choose a pickup time slot on E-Commerce channel.
- Improved email receipts and notifications with the ability for businesses to customize email receipts, configure by deliver mode, etc.
- Enhanced order fulfillment visibility for store associates with live tile and notifications to monitor and address orders that need to be fulfilled.
- Streamline order pick-up flows, including support for QR codes.
Enhancements to inventory visibility, movement, and adjustments
Inventory management and visibility is key to business success in order to give customers clear insights into where stock is located, reduce out-of-stock situations, and empower our sellers, managers, and merchandisers to make better decisions. With this update, we have made a range of improvements touching inventory and stock management including enhancements to e-commerce inventory availability lookup API, inventory aware product discovery for e-commerce customers, improvements to inventory lookup operations via in-store point of sale, along with comprehensive in-store inventory management capabilities.
Chat in Dynamics 365 Commerce with Power Virtual Agents and Dynamics 365 Customer Service (Preview)
Customer service functionality will be added to Dynamics 365 Commerce by leveraging the capabilities in Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Service and Microsoft Power Virtual Agents. Site administrators will be able to configure the chat widget on the e-commerce site with proactive notification capability based on different criteria.
This will be supported via native integrations with Dynamics 365 Customer Service chat or virtual agents into Dynamics 365 Commerce. With this, contact center agents will be able to look up customer information using Dynamics 365 Commerce Call Center and act on customer’s details and orders as required.