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Understand the Basics of Enabling Retail & Commerce Functionality in F&O, Even If You Aren't A Retailer

The objective of this blog post is on the one hand understanding the basic key functionality within D365 Commerce and on the other hand understanding the different types of retail channels.

What I want you to get out of this blog is essentially the hows and whys on potentially adding retail functionality to your existing D365SCM/FO investment eventough you may not identify as a retailer.Short, maximizing your investment.And to give you an example, let's talk about for example B2B ecommerce. You may be a manufacturer producing soccer balls and yes you are selling it somehow to your audiences through a for example customer services reps that negotiate deals via email and phone and then plug in sales orders at time of sale manually into D365SCM. Let’s assume, your customers have frequent order and similar orders as well – that scenarios may favor a B2B ecom channel that allos your team to operate more efficient in order entry processing, may increase incremental sales and focus on higher value adding tasks than manually plugging in order and provides your customers with a self service ecommerce channel/portal to place orders what may enhance the customer experience also.

You do not take or implement a whole new strategy here, you still accepting sales orders – just through a different channel/way. D365 Commerce offers you different ways to interact with your customers.This is just one example – But highlights the the goal of this blog post on how you can maximize your investment when you are aready running D365FO or SCM with retail functionality eventough you may not identify as a retailer.

So, what even is D365 Commerce?

Ultimately, D365 Commerce is part of D365 suite and it works alongside Dynamcis for Finance and Operations and Supply Chain Management.

And as the definition stated, it's designed to help businesses manage and optimize ecommerce online sales, In-store sales and Omni channel customer experiences. The icons symbolize ecommerce, point of sale, order management, inventory management, customer insights, loyalty and payment processing.

And if any of these topics overlap to some extent with what you're thinking about from a solution side in the near future or addresses some of your current business problems then that might make you a good fit for leveraging part of the D365 Commerce solution, particularly if you're already leveraging D365FO/SCM. And just tying to the objectives again, the effort to get you on D365Commerce features and functions is very little compared to e.g. signing up for a B2B portal with salesforce and integrate such to D365SCM/FO.  

See above the 4 different channels in D365 Commerce with some of their uniquenesses and differentiators. But, first of all, what is a channel?

The channel is the avenue that you communicate to your customers through.Lets start with B2C which stands for business to consumer. What's unique about this channel?

Well, it's a fully featured user interface for your clients. Fully featured means that it comes with all components that your customers expects from an ecommerce site. So, that to me means, it can display products and prices, show product images, it can sell products, it also has marketing content and collateral. You can search, you can save wish lists, you can view your order history, you can sign in, etc. All of those things to me is what fully featured means. If you're gonna look at Shopify or Magento, D365 Commerce B2C has all the same standard features.Secondly, it supports credit cards and its processing.I specifically called out specifically Ayden, as there is no extensive specific configuration or development required. It's as simple as yuo signing up for an Ayden account, plug in your API keys and turn it on and viola credit cards are working. So, its pretty much plug and play what's pretty handy.Of course other payment methods can be set up or added on via ISVs but this one (Ayden) I wanted to call out specifically. Last but not least it supports advanced targeting. This means for example, if the user like logs in in California, they see one experience. If they log in in New Jersey, they see something else on the website. So, short in can be based on you geo location. It can also be based on if you/ve shopped with store X before, you see A and if you haven't shopped with store X, you see B. Short, it can also be based on other criteria such as attributes that are assigned to the customer record. Other examples are if a customer as a phone number associated, or if a customer opted in for a newsletter - Based on such the content displayed can be modified.

Let’s move onto B2B Ecommerce – which stands for Business to business.

This is a different ecommerce site/experience.So all features and functions you may think of that are required for B2B sales come into play here. We can take advantage of customer specific pricing, take advantage of customer catalogs and use order templates. For example, if you have B2B customers that call your sales reps every single month and order the same 3 products over and over, then such customer could see all those 3 products via a customer catalog, can use order tenmplates for their frequent/recurring orders and don’t need to call every single time your sales rep. Short, you can use B2B ecommerce site as self service portal and when you place an order that way it creates the SO accordingy in D365SCM/FO then. Additionally, you can make use of customer specific pricing - the B2B channel is recognizing trade agreements, B2C channel is not.

So, for example you are selling a soccer ball to Segurado Sporting Goods for 5 US Dollar, Peter’s sporting goods gets additionally a 5% discount and for all other customers its10 dollar – we can set such up via discount and sales price trade agreements and B2B channel will recognize such. Another big thing to mention in regards to B2B is that it accepts on account payments. So, literally your customers can come on the B2B ecommerce site, put in their order and charge it to their account just like a normal sales order in D365. This feature set also recognizes credit limits if you would like and there are various ways how you can go about such for example. Last but not least, the invoice payment portal is another uniqueness about this channel. So, there are literally customers of Microsoft right now that use B2B ecommerce only for invoice payments.Let’s assume you create the SO via manual entry and customer sales reps or any other way. So what that means when AR generates an invoice the customer can log in to the B2B ecommerce site and view their invoices there. They can download all of their invoices, and they can pay their invoices online. That feature alone, even without shopping for additional products and creating sales orders, can be a key use case.

The next channel I will highlight is the POS. So what's unique about point of sale?

Obvious is that there is physical hardware and also mobile devices for the retail POS channel. Such could be windows, apple or android devices that all work with the POS system.Secondly, POS supports omnichannel order fulfillment. For example, an order comes in via ecommerce, via sales rep and manual SO creation or any other channel but need to be fulfilled by the warehouse (picked and packed by the warehouse) In a true retail scenario you can pick pack and complete the SO at the store for store pick up. But again to stay compliant with today topic, lets go with an interesting scenario that I have seen in the past where the POS was used at the warehouse for a hardwood flooring company. So the order came in one or the other way, the truck driver came to the warehouse and wanted to pick such up. The truck drivers at the warehouse then had the mobile point of sale on an iPad and they would be able to see the order and could pick and pack it into the truck. The benefit here was that via leveraging the point of sale as the mechanism to easily fulfill these orders, their truck drivers didn’t need to log into F&O fulfilling the orders that way.

There are also benefits from a licensing standpoint that way (as POS are device licenses not user licenses). Last but not least, the POS has inventory management capabilities. Meaning you have access to basic inventory management functions as well. So right from the POS, although you know maybe they don't have advanced warehouse set up or they don't have devices for advanced warehouse, you could use point of sale strictly for conducting cycle counts, receiving, creating purchase orders, doing inventory lookups, doing movement journals, doing inventory adjustments. All of those operations are supported through POS. So even if you're not using the sales portions of the point of sale, if you have a unique application where on a cell phone you want one of your workers to do inventory adjustments and any other IM function mentioned, the POS may be all he needs. It might be a good use case in case you don’t want to go the full advanced warehouse route but still want mobile capabailities for inventory management. Again, this may have license benefits as such a worker only uses the POS and does not need a full FO license.


Lastly let’s talk about the call center. Why is it different? So for call center, one of the differences I've put here is that you can accept credit cards. It allows the Adyen frame/pop up to come up within F&O and it allows you to satisfy a sales order with a credit card payment. There is a feature called sales order completion and if you turn such on a customer sales rep can’t close/save the sales order until it’s paid. So you would need to record the credit card payment on the call for example, the customer gives you his/her credit card numbervia phone, you click payment, it  opens up the ayden window, you enter the credit card number and complete the order that way.

Nice thing is that the credit card never touched D365 in that example as the Ayden screen pop up in a separate window. With a standard SO in FO, you could basically create the SO and leave it there in draft or confirmed status, but with that feature you enforce that you record the payment prior you can navigate away from the SO. Short, you need to complete the SO payment to proceed. You can also set up different method of payments like account, Paypal, giftcard, loyalty points and use such for payment of course or even limit certain channels to certain payment methods – the above was simply a credit card example. Another differentiator are the advanced pricing and promotions. The Commerce engine, although there's a lot of overlap with trade agreements, Call center and all the commerce channels can all enforce the advanced pricing engine and promotion engine within D 365. So advanced pricing and promotion strategies such as mix and match discounts are possible. Buy a soccer ball and a hand pump and a jersey and get a pair of cleats for free OR Quantity discounts by 100 items across anything and get a certain thing threshold discounts OR Spend $15,000 on your order and get 10% off. Nice thing is that you enter SO when using the call center via the exact same screen. And such is user specific - means you need to enroll a user for call center – but when turned on, for that user enrolled all SOs that they put in the system would go through the advanced price engine. You could be up and running and could have advanced and pricing promotions with little effort and that could be a tool to upgrade your pricing. Last but not least, call center has enhanced order management capabilities order fulfillment and customer service. It does support some like really interesting edge cases including backorder management, different types of queuing of orders, and additions to better manage your sales orders. For example, to visualize an inventory bottleneck - when the when the customer service wrap is entering in a sales order, it can color code the lines to show them the amount of inventory that's on hand. So they can communicate to the customer if some one of the lines that they're ordering is like low on stock or not on hand. So, assistive selling and risk management are great uniqueness of the call center channel. Assistive selling means also up and crossselling. So, you add a soccer ball as a sales rep to the SO. D365 will recommend that you also get the pump to pump it up so it will show that to them. Such is set up as related item on the released product for example. In that regard, there is also the script capability to further support and standardize sales rep replies and processes. A script will pop up right on the screen when e.g. a sales rep adds a specific line to the SO - saying for example, “You just added the soccer ball basic edition, do you want to get the barca editon for 5 dollar more? It has the logo on it and its the best soccer club in the world. Short,you can upsell via scripting. Same applies to cross selling. And those prompts and scripts can be added across the sales order cycle such as when a new SO is created, when lines are added when you press total in the end and advance to the payment etc. Such scripts could be category specific, item specific, sales order process specific. Tiyng this back to some of the scenarios from prior lets assume you are currently tracking your sales via emails and phone calls and your sales rep enters those manually in D365SCM as SO. B2B is out of the picture for XYZ reasons, then call center can enhance your customer and employee experience for those sales reps and lead to a more standardized sales process for example. With little to no additional effort. In terms of risk management, you can also set up fraud rules what determines that you pause sales orders based on XYZ criteria and out such out for manual review.

E.g. a new customer that never shopped with us may require a manual review OR if a customer returns most of the orders and they are ordering something above 50 Bucks. A second human, like a manager, has to release the order or cancel the order before it could be fulfilled.

Now, that we have a highlevel understanding of the different channels, I want to highlight that you are already halfway there.

Actually, you are already there:

You can easily maximize your existing FO/SCM investment and add on enhancing features of D365Commerce if the use case allows it. Again, if you're reading this blog, you're probably already on your way and have some or most of this elements listed already configured and up and running.

  • You probably already have a legal entity set up otherwise you cant process financial or invenroy transactions

  • You probably already have financial main account, GL and account structures, financial dimensions and allocations and posting profiles set up

  • You probably already have customer records set up as otherwise you couldn’t enter sales order in.

  • You probably already maintain inventory and track ins and outs in warehouses.

  • You probably already have pricing set up such as trade agreements, sales prices on the item record, markdowns and promotions.

  • You probably also have products set up otherwise you couldn’t transact and maintain inventory

All those are bare bones of D365SCM and FO and you can reuse such for Commerce what makes the life to Commerce features so rapid. Its like adding to a 2 layer house a balcony or a roof. Short, If you have all of this, you can move into any of these commerce channels more easily than you think.

Now that we have a highlevel understanding of the different channels and understanding that you are halfway there, lets highlight some interesting use cases where retail functionality has been used even tough the organizations do not consider themselves as pure retailers per se - just to paint the vision.

Use cases 1:

The first use case I want to highlight could be a solution in the food processing industry. Let's assume you are using clipboards to manage you PPE per worker manually at the moment. Instead of that , you could use the POS for the management of PPE in your factory. So, you can place a POS terminal in a room within the facility, employee can come through to pick up their like hairnets and booties and face masks and stuff every single day. The employee comes up to the POS, scans thei badge, the POS recognizes you  are a XYZ role and you require for that role one hairnet, one splash guard 1 apron, 1 whatever. The Items on the POS comes up as as $0.00 items so do not have financial impact but do deduct inventory. In the end of the day you have a SO for every employee that consumed PPE per day. As we are tarcking inventory of PPE now, you would see you are running low on e.g. gloves and can plan restocking proatviely via master planning based on min max potentially. You would also see that e.g. employee Chris worked 5 days this week and consumed XYZ PPE for reporting what helps compliance.

Use case 2:

Another use case could be in the aircraft manufacturing industry.Let’s assume you are tracking dispensed fuel via a notepad on an honor system and invoice via mail afterwards.Instead, you could use the POS on a mobile device at your airports for your technicians to dispense fuel into the aircrafts. So your workers would create a sales order when a plane landed – that says this tail number just landed. Then they would go up to the aircraft, dispense the fuel and then put in the precise amount of fuel into D 365 via POS for the first time ever. Now, you have the actual visibility into how much fuel they have in the trucks, in the tanks and how much dispensed per aircraft – all report directly on the job in a system. You can also now take credit card payments directly on the POS or pay on account. Last but not least it also helpes more efficiently planning their aircraft landing & take of times.Again, this highlights another example where a manufacturer made use of retail functions eventough they may not identify as a retailer.


Use case 3:

Another use case could be in the chemical manufacturing industry. Let’s assume you are creating drugs and vaccines. You could use advanced promotion management – means if you buy 100g of substance A, it goes to this promotional prices only through those days. You can take advantage of loyalty and coupon management – e.g. you bought this drug last months, if you buy it again you get free shipping via coupons and call center functionality.  


Use case 4:

Another use case could be in the warehouse and distribution and/or manufacturing industry in general – I have seen this use case multiple times in the past. Let’s assume you are not using master planning or min/mac, period are not sufficient for your scnenario. I have seen so many organizations that are not retailers take advantage of the buyer push functionality based on replenishment rules and/or location weights – it helps you to distribute PO quantities that may arrive in a DC to your other facilities.

Use case 5:

Another use case could be taking advantage of B2B ecom portal to allow self-service for your sales reps/workforce to order office supplies. E.g. you are an insurance company, nothing really to do with retail, but you would like to better manage your inventory and allow employee self-serve for office supplies. Customers in this case employees can select the office supplies needed on the B2B poral, only products are exposed that belong to office supplies. You create an order what creates a 0 Dollar SO in D365FO/SCM. The items are flagged as direct delivery items and create a PO.

Those are very specific scenarios and edge cases but in general if you are a manufacturer you are producing something and somehow you connect with your customers and track sales orders - one of those channels may be applicable to you. If you are conducting phone calls – why not a B2B channel to run more efficient for example? I hope you saw that there are easy entry points for Commerce in your D365FSCM implementation that will help you realize the investment you've already made in D365.

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