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Quickly respond to changing retail needs with an intelligent supply chain

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As digital commerce continues to evolve and become an integral revenue stream for retailers and consumer goods companies, it is paramount for these companies to digitally transform their supply chain as well. They need the agility to rapidly plan and adapt to changing customer needs, use AI and machine learning to automate order orchestration, fulfilment, and delivery, and lastly, seamlessly add new fulfilment methods like buy online pick up in store (BOPIS) or curbside pick-up. Customer shopping behaviors are constantly changing, but customers continue to seek near-instant gratification when buying online or in-store. If a product is not on the shelf when they need it, they will order it from another retailer instantly using their cell phone.

According to a recent study by Forrester Consulting commissioned by Microsoft, 69 percent of retail businesses were impacted due to disruptions in supply chain and shifting customer demand caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and only 51 percent of retail decision makers felt their supply chains are prepared to meet growing digital commerce needs. One of the ways to achieve agility is to enhance end-to-end visibility of their supply chain and have access to real-time omnichannel inventory data. Creating a digital supply chain twin is a starting point to help businesses gain visibility all the way from the supplier upstream to the customer downstream. With the digital twin, the supply chain leaders can predict disruptions, simulate different countermeasures to overcome them, and automate the execution of these countermeasures to resolve the issues in a timely manner. Further, with real-time visibility into their inventory, retailers can drive demand for overstock products and expedite replenishment of out-of-stock items in a cost-effective manner.

Companies like Michael Hill are using Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management to be more agile in responding to changing market needs. With their stores impacted by lockdowns due to the pandemic, Michael Hill accelerated their roll out of Microsoft Dynamics 365 to gain end-to-end supply chain visibility and improve availability of their valuable inventory. They overcame complications related to shipping to global customers and seamlessly shifted to using each retail store as a warehouse location so that customers can order jewelry online and pick up at the store of their choice.

"Moving our supply chain onto Dynamics 365 was a major step-change from our legacy platform, but the really exciting part is the speed with which we are now adapting to changing business needs be they driving incremental efficiencies in our warehouse, trialing new fulfilment models or unlocking deeper insights into customer experiences. We are able to trial and mature new models faster than ever before."Ian Dallas, Program Manager Supply Chain and Finance, Michael Hill

They can take the customer-first approach using Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management to support its warehouse management system (WMS), transform its supply chain, and connect production, inventory, and distribution directly to in-store operations and customer fulfilment. They are now able to expand their fulfilment choice to their customers including curbside pickup as a contactless option in Canada.

"Now that we have established Dynamics 365 as our operating WMS, the world is our oystertactically, we are able to deliver agile flow solutions that we could only dream of with our legacy systems. Strategically, we have a foundation for our expanding supply chain transformation endeavors, enabling integration with best of breed partners to deliver outstanding customer experiences."Nat Cooper, GM Global Logistics, Michael Hill

Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management helps companies close the gap between demand and fulfilment to deliver a delightful customer experience. Companies can rapidly re-plan supply and distribution of products in near real-time within minutes with in-memory microservice to effectively adapt to shifting customer demand.

"It's like magic. With Planning Optimization, our master planning went from five to seven hours to less than five minutes and the on boarding couldn't have gone any smoother."Andy Lee, IT Operations Manager, Fenwick

The intelligent distributed order management system can manage, automate, and optimize order fulfillment to ensure on-time delivery in a cost-effective manner. This ensures that the inventory is not only stored closest to where the customer demand is, but also in the right quantity to reduce the time to fulfillment. It helps drive down excess inventory.

Companies like Dr. Martens have implemented virtual warehouses using real-time omnichannel inventory data and together with their overnight store replenishment capability, they are able to get the right products to the right store within a short lead time.

Also, according to the study by Forrester, retailers are building redundancy into their supplier network to gain agility and become more resilient. Forty-five percent of the retailers are planning to increase the size of the distribution networks, and 42 percent of the retailers plan to onboard more suppliers to ensure greater flexibility going forward. This includes adding transportation partners to alleviate bottlenecks in getting goods to customers as demand fluctuates. Forty-eight percent of retailers consider last-mile delivery to be one of the top five most important components of supply chain agility. Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management helps retailers optimize their sourcing and fulfillment strategy with a fast and sophisticated supplier qualification process. It enhances collaboration with vendors using portals and streamlines planning of inbound and outbound shipments to ensure on time delivery to the customer.

As retailers embark on their journey to the next normal, they can improve resilience and easily scale with cloud and edge computing enabling faster decision making in a compressed timeframe.

A company like Chemist Warehouse, a large regional retailer with 500 franchise stores and 20,000 products, digitally transformed to the cloud to be able to offer a true omnichannel retail experience to its customers. Chemist Warehouse integrated the enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), and business-to-business offerings from Dynamics 365 to achieve complete transparency about which products are on order, who is delivering what, when it will be delivered, and who has ordered it. This has helped them streamline delivery and pave the way for expanding its online customer offering from click and collect, to click and deliver, while the customer experience at the point of purchase (whether in-store or online) is made as friction free as possible.

"The main reason to leverage the Dynamics 365 platform is time to value-add. The mantra for us is scalability and agilitythey're the two things that we bear in mind with everything we do. It's really to be able to provide a better experience to the customer."Jules Cardinale, Chief Information Officer, Chemist Warehouse

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The post Quickly respond to changing retail needs with an intelligent supply chain appeared first on Microsoft Dynamics 365 Blog.

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Power Fx: Error handling graduates to preview

We are thrilled to announce that the long-time experimental feature Formula-level error handling has moved forward to preview. As a result, you and your end users will enjoy higher reliability and more transparency about what is happening in your apps. It’s a huge step. Adding error handling to an existing language turned out to be a very tall order, touching almost everything, from data types, to functions, to the runtime. Thank you for all of your support, feedback, and patience as we got this done. What does it mean for you? Your apps will more reliably detect and report errors.You can write blank/null values to a database.You can detect and replace errors with the IsError, IsErrorOrBlank, and IfError functions.You can control error reporting and logging at a central location with App.OnError.You can create and throw your own custom errors with the Error function. Error handling is a big change in behavior. By entering preview, we are signaling that we believe we are done, that we anticipate no further significant changes from here. Many of you already use error handling in production and this move to preview should only embolden more of you to do so. If significant changes are needed from here, we will treat them as a separate feature. We are rolling this out slowly as it is such a big change. All of you will soon see that the Formula-level error handling switch has moved from experimental to preview in the settings (as of version 3.22082). It will still be default to off for most tenants. Over the coming weeks we will slowly change the default for new apps only to on across the tenants. Makers can still disable this feature and will be able to do so for a long time. I say again: we are changing the default for new apps only. Existing apps will continue running as they always have. 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