This is Part 3 of an extensive interview with Michael Griffiths, Global Director, Retail and Distribution for Microsoft Business Solutions. We cover the target market (company size and industry) and pain points for companies evaluating Dynamics Retail. Plus some success stories of well known brands using Dynamics for Retail in creative ways.
Editor: What type of retailer is the best fit for Dynamics for Retail?
Griffiths: We focus a lot on specialty retail as a strength because of the requirements in terms of close customer engagement based on the strength of inventory management. When you start getting into grocery and hospitality and some of those segments, the requirements become very different and we have partners who will take us there. But specialty retail, and then within that multiple micro-verticals like fashion apparel, furniture, gift novelty, electronics. That's really where our sweet spot is and we have customers across all of those different specialty segments. In terms of company size, it's a very scalable solution, so we have everyone from the 50-store retailer to someone like Mattress Firm at 1,000 stores to Carrefour at 22,000 users; so it really is a solution that can grow. The same is true for POS and one of our great customers, Optic 2000, the largest eyewear provider in France, has 1,800 stores and 7,000 POS. It is just a very large organization and they know that the Microsoft Dynamics technology can really address that and meet their needs.
Editor: Does Dynamics for Retail work in the small and midmarket business too?
Griffiths: One of the real strengths is that instead of focusing on just SMB (small and medium business) or just enterprise, the solution really does scale. An example like David's Tea in Canada is a great story. They started at two stores really using less of the functionality and the solution and now are over 100 stores. And the solution has grown. They've expanded the footprint of what they use. So our vision has always been that even if you're a smaller retailer, you can start on the Dynamics technology, leverage the capabilities that make sense, and then over time you may decide to add more. You may start, as an example, connecting our solution to QuickBooks and then you get to be a certain size and know that we've got enterprise class financials you can leverage out of the box so you will move up to that. We are taking a different approach so that the solution really scales from SMB up to the enterprise space.
Even though it's an end to end solution, you don't have to leverage everything. For example, you don’t have to use our financials or our supply chain modules or our HR. Our own Microsoft stores use our solution for inventory management, merchandising and POS, but then they use SAP for the financials and HR and some of the administrative tasks. Carrefour is using our solution for sort of an Omni Channel order scenario but connecting it to multiple other systems.
Editor: I hear the public sector is one of the biggest purchasers of Dynamics for Retail, why is that? And are there other industries that use Dynamics for Retail?
Griffiths: A strength of Dynamics is that there are a lot of great cross-industry scenarios. There are government entities that have, for example, liquor stores that they control and manage, and they need point of sale; or the post office that has retail as part of that operation. We do a number of those types of scenarios and Public Sector really compliments retail very well, as does distribution, and even manufacturing. We work with companies that manufacture clothing, but then they have their own stores. So when you purchase the solution, you don't just get retail, you get manufacturing and professional services, and all these capabilities that work together; you can leverage as many or as few as you'd like. It's a powerful value proposition for many of these companies.
Editor: What are some of the pain points a retailer might be experiencing when they look for Dynamics for Retail?
Griffiths: On the highest level, they just look at the accuracy, timeliness, and quality of data that they have, which typically resides in silos, and they won’t necessarily know what’s happening at the store level. They won't be able to replenish effectively because they don't have transparency across all parts of the organization and they can't make strategic decisions holistically when everyone is in their own little silo. We eliminate those blockers and we create a single view that gives them timely, accurate, consistent data.
The other piece is customer engagement. We give the associates at the store real-time access to information that's critical to serving the customer. They know what the inventory levels are not only in one store, but across the organization. We can pull up information about who that customer is and what they may have purchased before. And because the POS offers things like creating orders at the POS and then kicking off all the back-end process, you don't have to go to a separate system to do that. So if I'm at Mattress Firm and I need to order a mattress and the inventory doesn't typically reside in the store, I can do that on a tablet with the customer rather than having to run to the back office and maybe lose the sale. So we have these end to end scenarios. We can feed data to the associates; that way we start to put them on a level playing field with these customers who carry smartphones and devices.
Also, most retailers have told us that the cost of ownership is a huge problem. It is difficult to upgrade older technology that is not meeting the requirements of the problems of today. Best of breed was all they had as an option before. Now Microsoft is coming to them with a completely different value proposition: an agile, unified, single platform, where everything was built to work together. You can deploy the pieces that make the most sense today and then expand that footprint over time. That means that you can stop spending all of your IT dollars on just maintenance of the existing systems and middleware, and you can start thinking strategically about ways to do more: how to get into the social atmosphere, how to create applications to help connect to customers, and things like that.
Editor: Do you have other specific examples of customers who are using Dynamics for Retail in a creative way, such as Mattress Firm with the tablets?
Griffiths: Edwin Watts Golf has store associates who are very much experts in that space. They're recommending equipment; they're having to find the right size and fit. And while technology has been important to them in terms of automated golf machines and swing analysis, when they were receiving inventory or when they were working with their customers, a lot of it was just captured in notebooks and it was just manual process every which way. What they found is that the reason you go to Edwin Watts Golf is that they do have these in-store experts who have time to spend with you and really give you expertise and guidance. These experts were being pulled away from the customer to deal with these older, archaic software systems and spend time trying to find information. For example, if they didn’t have the golf clubs you ordered, trying to figure out where they are. So the expert is spending a lot of time away from the customer, which is counter to the value proposition. Now all this information is with the expert all the time. It could be purchase history, it could be that he's left handed so you know what clubs to recommend, it could be preferences, whatever. That type of information is critical to further enhance their differentiation from their competitors. Now, not only do they have the best experts in the business, but they have immediate access to information that the customer wants and needs in order to walk away with the right equipment. Thanks to Dynamics for Retail.
They are also interesting, too, because from the Omni Channel perspective, call centers are still actually important to them. So that was yet another information channel that they had to figure out how to integrate into that point of sale experience in the store.
This ends Part 3 of the Interview with Michael Griffiths. Stay tuned for Part 4.
Read the full interview:
Read more about Dynamics for Retail:
By Anya Ciecierski, ERP Software Blog Editor, www.erpsoftwareblog.com