Transform business process automation and people productivity with Microsoft Dynamics 365 and the Microsoft Cloud
Transform business process automation and people productivity with Microsoft Dynamics 365 and the Microsoft Cloud
We are going to share our vision on the importance of infusing AI into our cloud platform and DevOps process. Gartner referred to something similar as AIOps (pronounced “AI Ops”) and this has become the common term that we use internally, albeit with a larger scope. Today’s post is just the start, as we intend to provide regular updates to share our adoption stories of using AI technologies to support how we build and operate Azure at scale.
There are two unique characteristics of cloud services:
To build and operate reliable cloud services during this constant state of flux, and to do so as efficiently and effectively as possible, our cloud engineers (including thousands of Azure developers, operations engineers, customer support engineers, and program managers) heavily rely on data to make decisions and take actions. Furthermore, many of these decisions and actions need to be executed automatically as an integral part of our cloud services or our DevOps processes. Streamlining the path from data to decisions to actions involves identifying patterns in the data, reasoning, and making predictions based on historical data, then recommending or even taking actions based on the insights derived from all that underlying data.
AIOps has started to transform the cloud business by improving service quality and customer experience at scale while boosting engineers’ productivity with intelligent tools, driving continuous cost optimization, and ultimately improving the reliability, performance, and efficiency of the platform itself. When we invest in advancing AIOps and related technologies, we see this ultimately provides value in several ways:
Figure 2. AI for Cloud: AIOps and AI-Serving Platform.
Moving beyond our vision, we wanted to start by briefly summarizing our general methodology for building AIOps solutions. A solution in this space always starts with data—measurements of systems, customers, and processes—as the key of any AIOps solution is distilling insights about system behavior, customer behaviors, and DevOps artifacts and processes. The insights could include identifying a problem that is happening now (detect), why it’s happening (diagnose), what will happen in the future (predict), and how to improve (optimize, adjust, and mitigate). Such insights should always be associated with business metrics—customer satisfaction, system quality, and DevOps productivity—and drive actions in line with prioritization determined by the business impact. The actions will also be fed back into the system and process. This feedback could be fully automated (infused into the system) or with humans in the loop (infused into the DevOps process). This overall methodology guided us to build AIOps solutions in three pillars.
Today, we’re introducing several AIOps solutions that are already in use and supporting Azure behind the scenes. The goal is to automate system management to reduce human intervention. As a result, this helps to reduce operational costs, improve system efficiency, and increase customer satisfaction. These solutions have already contributed significantly to the Azure platform availability improvements, especially for Azure IaaS virtual machines (VMs). AIOps solutions contributed in several ways including protecting customers’ workload from host failures through hardware failure prediction and proactive actions like live migration and Project Tardigrade and pre-provisioning VMs to shorten VM creation time.
Of course, engineering improvements and ongoing system innovation also play important roles in the continuous improvement of platform reliability.
AI can boost engineering productivity and help in shipping high-quality services with speed. Below are a few examples of AI for DevOps solutions.
As shared in AIOps Innovations in Incident Management for Cloud Services at the AAAI-20 conference, we have developed AI-based solutions that enable engineers not only to detect issues early but also to identify the right team(s) to engage and therefore mitigate as quickly as possible. Tight integration into the platform enables end-to-end touchless mitigation for some scenarios, which considerably reduces customer impact and therefore improves the overall customer experience.
For an example that has already made its way into a customer-facing feature, Dynamic Threshold is an ML-based anomaly detection model. It is a feature of Azure Monitor used through the Azure portal or through the ARM API. Dynamic Threshold allows users to tune their detection sensitivity, including specifying how many violation points will trigger a monitoring alert.
To improve the Azure customer experience, we have been developing AI solutions to power the full lifecycle of customer management. For example, a decision support system has been developed to guide customers towards the best selection of support resources by leveraging the customer’s service selection and verbatim summary of the problem experienced. This helps shorten the time it takes to get customers and partners the right guidance and support that they need.
To achieve greater efficiencies in managing a global-scale cloud, we have been investing in building systems that support using AI to optimize cloud resource usage and therefore the customer experience. One example is Resource Central (RC), an AI-serving platform for Azure that we described in Communications of the ACM. It collects telemetry from Azure containers and servers, learns from their prior behaviors, and, when requested, produces predictions of their future behaviors. We are already using RC to predict many characteristics of Azure Compute workloads accurately, including resource procurement and allocation, all of which helps to improve system performance and efficiency.
We have shared our vision of AI infusion into the Azure platform and our DevOps processes and highlighted several solutions that are already in use to improve service quality across a range of areas. Look to us to share more details of our internal AI and ML solutions for even more intelligent cloud management in the future. We’re confident that these are the right investment solutions to improve our effectiveness and efficiency as a cloud provider, including improving the reliability and performance of the Azure platform itself.
Note blog reference: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-in/blog/advancing-azure-service-quality-with-artificial-intelligence-aiops/
It turns out what you don’t know as a manufacturer can and will hurt you. For too long, manufacturers have settled for siloed and inconsistent information, as well as manual processes, to understand and manage their supply chain. Why? Because for a long time, these systems were good enough to keep production going.
But plenty of manufacturers don’t want to settle for good enough. IDC predicts that by 2019, 50% of manufacturing supply chains will have benefited from digital transformation, and the remainder will be held back by outdated business models or functional structures. Smart manufacturers understand that supply chain transformation is necessary. They are connecting assets across their factories, gaining visibility into their supply chain, and acting on insights from increased visibility to address inefficiency, as well as increase customer satisfaction and margins.
Supply chain management is complex, so doing it right requires a solution that simplifies and consolidates disparate information, while retaining flexibility. Data from the sales process, suppliers, order fulfillment, product performance, and customer service all matter for a full understanding of the supply chain. The core tools for accomplishing this fall into three categories: IoT-enabled visibility and services, powerful analytics, and cloud-delivered data visualizations.
Like many aspects of manufacturing, IoT is the starting point. The best way to lower production costs is by using a single IoT-friendly platform to integrate back and front office processes. Using IoT-based modeling to create digital twins, manufacturers can understand in real-time the amount of wear and tear on parts and adjust designs in response. This insight can help identify simple inefficiencies like sourcing a part from the company that’s always supplied it, rather than buying a similarly-performing part at a lower cost from another supplier.
Powerful analytics is the next step in transforming your supply chain. A truly intelligent system for supply chain management dynamically adjusts distribution, as well as production, to accelerate the speed of delivery. By using built-in analytics and machine learning, public data like weather conditions can be used to create richer, more accurate schedules and delivery forecasts. On top of that, opportunities to consolidate or expedite shipments can be automatically identified using artificial intelligence—passing lower shipping and order fulfillment costs on to customers.
Finally, consolidating all this information won’t completely optimize your supply chain without the ability to easily visualize and manage it. That’s why a real-time and mobile-delivered view is so crucial. Understanding how to solve problems is hard enough; there’s no need to complicate it further by using different systems to identify where problems are occurring. Decision makers on the factory floor or in global headquarters need instant access to relevant information, and the collaborative power to communicate with or work alongside employees anywhere in the world. These investments in operations put manufacturers in position to embrace new technology and adjust to whatever business challenges they may be facing.
The power of a supply chain management and operations platform that combines all these capabilities at cloud speed and scale is obvious. Companies positioned to digitally transform their supply chains will see accelerated time to market and reduced cost to enter new markets or scale new lines of business. Microsoft supports flexibility in deployment, enabling you to leverage existing investments while expanding with either a cloud or a hybrid model that includes both on-prem and cloud systems. That can shorten deployment from months to days and ensure security and analytics capabilities are consistent across every location and tuned appropriately for every team.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 ends the artificial separation of ERP and CRM and makes it easy for employees to collaborate and even role-switch to engage customers or address supply chain issues. Only Dynamics 365 unites the front office and the back office with a single end-to-end system for managing every aspect of your business, all backed by industry-leading enterprise cloud. That means manufacturers can develop at the pace and scale that’s right for them, while taking advantage of current investments such as existing productivity and technology stacks. With Microsoft, consistent development practices and R&D investments combine to offer manufacturers rich analytics, embedded intelligence, partner-created applications, and the ability to collaborate worldwide.
Store closures and social distancing have caused a rise in demand for virtual tools and technologies that bring the shopping experience into consumers’ homes. Beauty brands, which were among the first to try out AI and AR to enhance the consumer experience, are increasingly using the technology to suggest products based on people’s preferences and unique characteristics, including skin tone and face shape, as well as to help customers virtually try on products before committing to a purchase. Even before the Covid-19 crisis, the technology had already proved its worth. Figures from Perfect Corp, which develops virtual makeup technology, show that virtual try-on technology generated 2.5 times higher e-commerce conversions for brands and decreased return rates by more than 8%. Trident is offering Cloud Based Retail ERP Software to manager retail operations effectively
As the technology develops and becomes more sophisticated, consumers are progressively trusting in AI to help them make purchase decisions.
“Consumers trust AI to curate a choice of products, services and experiences that reduce complexity and make life more fulfilling,” writes Andrew Cosgrove, Global Consumer Knowledge Leader & Lead Analyst at EY. “AI knows its “owner” so well that it suggests new and unexpected product ideas or experiences they love.”
Digital suddenly finds itself one of the main commerce channels for retailers. We expect AI and AR are here to stay, as more consumers become aware of their virtues when it comes to convenience, and as these technologies can help retailers to continue trading regardless of what happens in the real world.
Here are four ways to make AI and AR work for your business:
AI and AR take online shopping to a whole new level by making it possible for consumers to choose from selected products picked out just for them, try out new experiences and test products in ways they wouldn’t have been able to previously – all from the comfort of their homes.
Early pioneers of AI- and AR-powered online shopping include opticians, who realized that consumers still want the option to try on glasses and see what styles suit them before committing to a purchase. Virtual fitting technology has made this possible, with some retailers further elevating the experience using AI to automatically suggest the perfect frame to suit your face.
Indeed, AI lends itself to verticals where consumers may find themselves bogged down in complex choices. Instead of having to scroll through hundreds and hundreds of beauty products, for example, new services such as My Beauty Matches use AI-powered algorithms, and using the consumer’s previous searches, purchases, and known preferences, they suggest items from large databases (in this case, there are over 400,000 products) that couldn’t be easily browsed by the consumer.
Advances in machine learning help brands to identify consumer styles and preferences to gain a granular level of customer understanding, so they can optimize each customer’s individual journey.
“In one of the worlds we modeled, consumers valued time much more than money,” Andrew Cosgrove, Global Consumer Knowledge Leader & Lead Analyst at EY, said. “Their personalized AI learned about their unique preferences and used those insights to buy most of the things they needed. This allowed them to spend their time shopping only with brands that reflected their values and purpose.”
The most successful AI and AR experiences today tend to be delivered by retailers that have large item assortments and the ability for consumers to personalize their choices. Home goods and furniture retailers are a clear use case, with many using the technology to help customers choose products that will fit beautifully into their homes and match their existing décor.
Online furniture retailer Wayfair is known for using AI to target customers with personalized recommendations. The company’s search algorithm extracts the customer’s style preferences from their search history to present a selection of furniture that is likely to appeal. Another service allows customers to take a photo of a furniture piece they like and match it to a similar item in the Wayfair inventory, which holds millions of products.
AR then takes this a step further by giving consumers the ability to virtually see how products will look in situ before committing to a purchase. Returns on investment have been demonstrated with increased conversion and reduced returns.
AI is proving its worth in fashion too, helping customers choose clothing that will fit them best by analyzing previous purchases and suggesting sizing based on their profile. Iconic jeans brand Levi’s uses an AI-based chatbot to help customers find the perfect pair of jeans. It asks consumers their preferences when it comes to fit, rise, amount of stretch and wash, and asks what size they are in another brand to determine the best size in Levi’s and suggest the right pair.
And in beauty, brands are using the technology to offer services such as instant foundation shade matching and advanced skincare analysis, as well as matching consumers with products and looks that will suit their complexion, style and occasion.
One of the major benefits that retailers can draw from AI and AR experiences is the amount of data they can collect about their consumers along the way. This data, if collected appropriately, can be used to improve the accuracy of stock and inventory requirements forecasts throughout the year.
“As consumers browse, test features and make purchases, they are providing retailers with an entirely new set of data points,” writes Hamaad Chippa on Retail TouchPoints.
Retailers can then use this information to rethink product assortments for a better shopping experience, or to develop highly targeted marketing campaigns that lead to greater conversion rates. For example, a customer who just bought a whole load of supplies from a pet store for their new kitten is likely to want to sign up for home deliveries of cat food.
AI can also help retailers target consumers with promotions that are more likely to lead to purchases based on past browsing and purchase history. “Whether that is 10% off online, 15% in-store or free shipping, customers automatically receive the promotions that are most likely to make them convert,” writes Imtiaz Mohammady on Forbes.
Retailers are increasingly using AI to gain a better picture of what stock they hold currently and what they will need in future. Although many are used to interrogating their data to anticipate demand and make accurate forecasts, AI is taking the game to new heights by helping them to better prepare for unexpected events and predict and prevent potential supply chain disruptions. Advanced forecasting and replenishment tools can help react to changes, recalculate new quantities to reorder for stores and warehouses, and adjust the supply systems to keep up with demand.
Supermarkets in particular are turning to AI models to help keep store shelves stocked. Companies such as Walmart have been trialing robots that scan aisles for missing products. And in its Walmart Neighborhood Market store in Levittown, New York, the company is exploring the possibilities of AI and using real-time information to help store associates know more precisely when to restock products, so that items are available on shelves when they’re needed.
“Customers can be confident about products being there, about the freshness of produce and meat,” Mike Hanrahan, CEO of Walmart’s Intelligent Retail Lab, said in a press release. “Those are the types of things that AI can really help with.”
Retailers need to be able to offer rich and convenient customer experiences, and both AI and AR are very quickly opening up new possibilities that could transform retail, making it more adaptable to diverse situations.
In the not too distant future, AI and AR could help to make retail experiences even more personalized, unique, collaborative and social. Without moving from their sofa, customers may be automatically sent a selection of outfits and beauty products curated just for them in anticipation of an upcoming family party. They will simply scroll through the selection, try everything on virtually, mark down what they want to purchase, and wait for everything to arrive well in time for the big event – no hassle, ultimate convenience. Contact us for Retail ERP Software demo or write us at email@example.com
In the not too distant past, efforts in manufacturing to optimize productivity and increase customer satisfaction were viewed as separate endeavors. Today, the convergence of physical and digital trends is disrupting these kinds of assumptions.
Manufacturers today care about integrated digital and physical systems, improved visibility, increased efficiency, additional flexibility, and lower costs. They want to connect equipment and factories, leveraging data from the factory floor to the customer call center to improve every aspect of their operations.
But this is just the beginning. Digitization is fundamentally changing the way manufacturers do business, enabling a customer-centric approach while optimizing operations. Digitally empowered manufacturers engage customers throughout the product lifecycle from design to field service. They sell value-add services to complement the product sales, opening new revenue streams and strengthening their customer relationships. And they are revolutionizing delivery of these differentiated services, using technology like augmented reality to combine the eyes of a technician in the field with the insights of an expert back at headquarters.
Capitalizing on these trends isn’t limited to large, well-resourced manufacturers. Across all kinds of manufacturing operations, the opportunity to digitize and transform your business has never been more accessible.
The Microsoft vision for supporting digital manufacturing embraces the seismic shifts in the industry today. We’ve created solutions that provide a unified and flexible approach across front office and production floor processes. Our approach enables transformation in six ways:
By collecting, integrating, and visualizing global supply chain data worldwide, manufacturers gain better visibility into their operations from production to sales. For example, one of the world’s largest industrial automation firms found that by automating the collection and analysis of data from remote installations across the petroleum supply chain, they strengthened their competitive advantage with a faster time to market. Improved access to supply chain data is also the basis for better collaboration across production, supply, service, and sales.
With a consolidated view that unifies process oversight and provides real-time insight, manufacturers can institutionalize efficiency gains and use connected devices to monitor and resolve issues remotely. One leading manufacturer of industrial robots enabled 24-hour continuous uptime using this approach. The additional insights into production and customer usage also allow manufacturers to provide value-added services like ongoing monitoring and proactive support.
To deliver personalized and contextual engagement across any channel, manufacturers must provide customers with more visibility and build trust through fast and convenient responses. This engagement approach is built on a combination of predictive analytics, the ability to deliver value-added services at scale, and guided or self-directed service that’s relevant to customer needs. With the implementation of a connected platform for sales through service, a leading home technology manufacturer not only solved potential problems remotely before customers ever felt the impact, but provided custom differentiated offerings based on unique customer usage and purchasing history.
Thanks to the ever-decreasing cost of IoT sensors, sophisticated mobile devices, and cloud-based data aggregation, manufacturers can improve service quality and margins by offering remote monitoring and proactive maintenance services that supplement break/fix support. By more intelligently coordinating technicians equipped with mobile and virtual reality tools, companies can leverage existing expertise and minimize costly engagements. A leading tire service and manufacturing company found that by combining customer records, technician availability, and back-end inventory in a single mobile-friendly system, it could provide a seamless user experience as well as improve its service delivery.
understand their business more deeply, from customer usage through supply chain sourcing and production. With IoT-enabled parts, assets, and products, manufacturers can gain the insights needed to innovate. Data from connected products and equipment can empower developers, engineers, and technicians to collaborate. For example, teams can identify overengineered or faulty components and track product usage in the field to improve future designs. When a leading information and communication technology company implemented remote monitoring, they decreased time to production as well as accelerated the cycle of innovation using a data-driven approach.
When a company can provide 360-degree views of customer assets and work order history, technicians are empowered by a better understanding of not only the job in front of them, but of other similar and successful field service engagements. This goes hand in hand with empowering service agents to provide instant feedback, using machine learning to find and follow similar cases for successful troubleshooting, and scheduling a visit or evaluation. A leading auto manufacturer wanted to save money by unifying their siloed customer service and customer engagement while providing employees with better tools to understand customer sentiment. To accomplish this, it implemented a system to connect production and project management with their customer relationship management systems in order to deliver personalized service and recommendations to their customers.
For manufacturers, Microsoft Dynamics 365 ends the artificial divide between CRM and ERP systems and supplements necessary capabilities with rich analytics, embedded intelligence, and the convenience people expect from consumer apps on their phone or tablet. Dynamics 365 unites the front office and the back office with a single end-to-end system for managing every aspect of your business, at the pace and scale that’s right for you. Digital transformation isn’t accomplished overnight and leveraging current investments is a key component of any successful approach. With Microsoft, you can optimize across all your processes while laying the foundation for connecting advanced technology in the future.
Replacing your accounting software is easier and more affordable than you may think. Use this guide to learn about the benefits of
a modern technology platform, better understand the advantages of a cloud-based solution, and know what questions to ask when
evaluating your options.
4 ways technology can help businesses thrive in a digital world. The good news is that the tools that help businesses capitalize on this
digital transformation are more accessible than ever before. The cloud is removing barriers like high up-front costs, ongoing maintenance, and IT dependency.
In today’s dynamic business climate, field service teams are still expected to maintain infrastructure and customer equipment, often with fewer onsite technicians and limited face-to-face interaction with customers. That means adjusting one’s field service model to continue providing proactive service—sending in the right people and tools at the right time—while being prepared with the processes and technology to do more with less from the field.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 Field Service and Microsoft Dynamics 365 Remote Assist can help organizations provide proactive service at the speed, volume, and quality customers expect, while reducing latency and cost burdens of onsite service. To drive these key business outcomes, we’ve invested in the following areas for the 2020 release wave 1:
We know that for onsite visits, enabling technicians to achieve a first-time fix is the ultimate goal, while also leveraging the technician’s valuable onsite time to drive increased proactive customer service. To that end, we’ve added the following capabilities:
These new Field Service and Remote Assist features help ensure technician success and optimize resource utilization, creating confidence in an uncertain business landscape.
We’re enhancing Field Service with AI to help technicians properly categorize incidents, which leads to improved business metrics like parts inventory and availability, technician scheduling, and increased first-time fix rates—driving down the overall cost of service for customers.
Device telemetry and service maintenance data helps to make intelligent decisions around dispatching technicians, however analyzing and prioritizing IoT alerts can be challenging. To address this, we’ve enhanced IoT alerting in several ways to increase proactive service delivery.
Improving proactive service with remote delivery helps to increase customer satisfaction and reduce overall service costs. We’re enhancing proactive service delivery with tighter integration between Field Service and several enabling Microsoft technologies, including:
Resource Scheduling Optimization (RSO) automatically schedules jobs to the people, equipment, and facilities best equipped to complete them. Updates include:
Siemens Smart Infrastructure intelligently connects energy systems, buildings, and industries to adapt and evolve the way people live and work, helping companies make buildings safe, comfortable, energy-efficient, and economical. Siemens is deploying Dynamics 365 Field Service to support more than 12,000 employees—including 7,500 service technicians—with the tools, processes, and agility they need to quickly and proactively handle customer issues and ensure smooth communication. Now, by taking advantage of capabilities such as proactive service delivery, resource scheduling, AI-infused insights, and more, Siemens is empowered to be more nimble and able to react to disruptive changes while continuing to provide high quality service to their customers. To learn more about the Siemens journey, read the customer story.
Like Siemens, Microsoft can help you and your service teams continue to meet ongoing demand for service despite new challenges. Explore the resources below to learn how Dynamics 365 Field Service and Dynamics 365 Remote Assist help ensure your ongoing success so you and your team continue to flourish long after this crisis.
You can contact Trident Information Systems for Demo of Dynamics 365 for Fields Services
Taking the scenario of online food industry, the introduction of cloud kitchens has boosted the online food ordering system. The word ‘Cloud Kitchen’ may sound new to you, but technology has evolved so rapidly that the Cloud Kitchen sector has become the most profitable based on the initial capital requirements, ROI, etc. We are offering Cloud Kitchen software to manage cloud kitchen operations effectively.
A Cloud Kitchen is primarily a restaurant kitchen that runs on its own or in a hub & spoke system. The main base or portal is primarily for taking online orders from various online food ordering sites and delivering them to the door. The concept of cloud kitchens has brought technological advancement and the opportunity to order food right from our fingertips.
The Cloud Kitchen operates in a hub & spoke configuration as you can see from the image above. The key goal of the center is to accept online orders and deliver them to the customer from the nearest spoke. A spoke here is the base kitchen of the center where orders are routed and food is supplied from the nearest spoke kitchen.
As previously explained about Cloud Kitchen, a cloud kitchen works in a number of ways. Cloud kitchens may have their own order by setting up a website for their customer to place an order or an app to do the same.
By registering with online food portals to accept orders such as Swiggy, Zomato, FoodPanda, Uber Eats, they will cover a quarter of customers and the other half of customers.
If we think about Cloud Kitchens, there are a lot of reasons to open. A recent study from Limetray found that entrepreneurs would like to open a Cloud Kitchen over a dining-in restaurant as their next outlet. So, let me share some of the advantages of opening a cloud kitchen business.
Scalability: Restaurant business model is the sort where, if a restaurant is going to boom in sales, immediate investment must be made to open a lot of franchises or improvisational outlets. In the same way, classic dining-in restaurants will take advantage of the cloud kitchen model to check their restaurant in new areas and demographics to get a answer from the end customer without spending a lot of money on investment.
Exclusivity: If you consume media from the internet, just like Netflix originals & Amazon prime exclusives, the Cloud Kitchen business model gives you the opportunity to offer end-user exclusivity and create unique ideas that keep food buds engaged rather than the same old food recipes.
Lower spending: the cloud kitchen model has much lower company expenditure and operating costs. Even, compared to classic dining at the restaurant location, there is no issue here that the cost is also that. There is also no major expenditure in ambience, signs, waiters, tables and chairs, etc.
Competitive pricing: Now that we don’t need the requisite investments listed above, Cloud Kitchens can spend their key financial capital by creating new dishes, new menu items, different pricing and, most importantly, by growing their digital presence online.
So if you are looking to manage cloud kitchen operations then Trident is offering cloud kitchen technology solution, you can contact with out consultant here
The boom of online grocery shopping has been a long time coming. In 2015, more than one third (37%) of shoppers in Asia-Pacific regularly shopped for food online, Nielsen reports. Although in the rest of the world online grocery shopping was less common, there was already a growing trend, which has only become more pronounced. According to projections by Deutsche Bank, online grocery shopping is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 28.2%, which is significant if compared with a 2.5% CAGR for total grocery sales.
Supermarkets have had time to prepare for the shift to online, but not all of them have stayed on top of trends. When, due to necessity, consumers worldwide moved massively towards online shopping, some supermarkets found themselves suddenly out of the race. Today, the businesses who didn’t believe and invest in omni-channel are facing the harsh consequences of their decisions.
Online shopping has been gaining ground quickly among all ages and geographies, and there is no reason to believe this popularity will fade in the upcoming months. This means there is no better time than today to invest in improving your e-commerce capabilities.
Here are seven tips to get you started.
Simplicity and usability of the platform should be your top goals:
How annoyed will your online shopper be when he finds out that his postcode is not eligible for delivery, after he spent a full hour adding products to the cart? For retailers, it pays off to be clear and provide all needed information from the start. Buyers should be aware of shipping prices and times, delivery restrictions, geographical areas included in the service and special conditions before they have added a single item to their cart.
When it’s time to check out, make sure that all the steps are clearly labelled, and that shoppers know what’s coming up in the process. Consider adding lines that clarify where the customer is at, such as “You can still modify your order in the next step” or “By clicking here, you confirm your order and accept to pay. You won’t be able to modify your order afterwards”. Consider adding a progress bar that shows the various steps (“Customer details” -> “Shipping” -> “Payment information” -> “Review order” -> “Complete and pay”).
Once the order has been placed, include an “order completed” page where all the key information is summarized: items purchased, delivery and payment information, time of order, and what the customer should expect (an email? A call? A link to track the shipment?).
Today, more consumers access websites from mobiles than from computers. According to data from marketing site The Drum, last year 63% of traffic and 53% of sales on retailers’ eCommerce sites happened via mobile. As the preference for mobile shopping is only going to get more common, you should ensure that your website performs well on mobile devices. Here are some questions you should ask yourself:
Many consumers start a transaction on a device and continue it on another one. If when they resume the transaction they lose all the items they had already added to the cart, they may not be bothered to start over again – and you’ll lose that transaction. Enable saving the cart for logged in customers, so they can easily pick up transactions on different devices, at their pace and convenience.
On your e-commerce site you can easily display a larger product selection than in your physical locations. If you decide to go for the “endless aisles” style, make sure you organize the selection so that customers can easily find what they need.
Offer several delivery options and time slots, and be specific with your delivery times. The best practice is to offer precise delivery windows, and allow people pick the one that best fits their schedule. The more precise you are, the more likely you are customers will decide to shop with you. Nielsen’s “Global Connected Commerce Report” advises offering 30-minute interval windows – provided you can stick to your promises, and ensure delivery within the selected time frame.
How should you ship the products? Food retailers worldwide have been experimenting with different delivery methods. Which one(s) you should implement will depend on your customers’ demands, as well as on the local context and competitive landscape. Do your customers prefer to get their products delivered home? Would they rather use a third-party delivery station, such as a refrigerated locker? Do they want to order online and pick up in-store? Can you support picking up products at the curbside, or even via drive-thru? The more delivery options you can offer, the likelier you are to satisfy all demands. What if you don’t have the infrastructure to manage timely delivery and distribution of your goods? Then you should consider partnering up with distribution agents. This model, made popular by tech companies like Instacart, has already been successfully adopted by many supermarkets.
Research by Nielsen shows that concerns over the quality of fresh items and worries about the risk of spoilage during delivery are two of the main barriers to online food shopping. To help consumers overcome these concerns,
When you are selling products online, you will be judged for more than just the quality of your products. If your website crashes, if the delivery service runs late, if a product description is incorrect, if the refrigerated locker where you deliver products breaks down, customers will hold you responsible. Convenience is a core element in consumers’ decision to shop for grocery online. A poor experience, a snag in the process, and you risk losing a customer forever.
It pays off to analyze and future-proof your whole chain, from production, to the technology you use, to accuracy of product information, to physical delivery, and ensure that every step of the process is smooth, efficient, and up to standards.
Online grocery shopping has moved beyond its tipping point. Although it’s hard to predict what will happen tomorrow, we can expect that grocery e-commerce will continue its upward trend. Retailers who want to shape the market and win over competitors must move quickly and fearlessly. If you need advice getting ready for the digital future of grocery shopping, do not hesitate to contact us.