06 May 2021 Matt Harland

​To say 2020 was a tough year for retailers is clearly an understatement. The past 12 months have been some of the most challenging the sector has ever had to face. 

However, digital disruption in retail was happening long before Covid-19 hit. It has been part of the retail landscape for more than a decade. The impact of the pandemic was simply another challenge the sector has had to take it in its stride. 

Impact of Covid-19 on the retail sector 

2020 was the year that everything changed. Covid-19 has led to a rise in ecommerce and accelerated digital transformation far beyond our wildest predictions. 

This shift away from physical stores towards digital has happened at a startling rate – five years’ growth in a matter of weeks, according to Deloitte. On top of that, you have changes in customer purchasing behaviour, product preferences, and purchasing channels. 

With digital transformation moving at such breakneck speed, retailers that are ready, willing and able to innovate through technology will survive (and thrive) moving forward. 

Why digital transformation? And why now? 

Retail has been dealt a tough blow by Covid-19, but as long as we need food, clothes and the occasional creature comfort, it’s not going to disappear any time soon. 

The pandemic has issued a mandate to retailers to make digital transformation their number one priority. It has forced them to think beyond the idea of updating existing legacy systems and unlock new sources of innovation. 

Digital transformation in retail is more than just an ecommerce website and shopping cart. It goes much deeper into the inner workings of an organisation, spanning supply chains, inventories and customer relationship processes. 

And all that hinges on one vital asset: data. 

How retailers are harnessing their data 

When understood and analysed well, data opens up a host of growth opportunities for retail business – new revenue streams, the ability to detect customer preferences and pain points, and the insight required for brand differentiation. 

New technology promises better customer experiences, nimbler inventory management, and wider access to insightful data. 

Microsoft technology gives retailers the tools they need to modernise, stay competitive, and create an environment in which adapting and responding to the needs of their customers and other stakeholders becomes second nature. 

Let’s take a look at three retailers that have used Microsoft Dynamics on their digital transformation journey. 

Dr. Martens – leveraging data 

This iconic footwear brand was reliant on time-consuming legacy systems for many years, leaving analysts little time to evaluate data. Today, thanks to MS Dynamics, large volumes of data are analysed quickly, enabling the company to better understand its customers, products and operations. Smarter business decisions and cross-channel analytics mean greater agility, accuracy and the ability to unlock new revenue streams to drive growth. 

Pandora – streamlining the customer journey 

When jewellery group Pandora wanted to expand but continue to meet customer expectations, it turned to MS Dynamics to facilitate those plans. Embedding the technology across its manufacturing, core and retail operations allowed the company to be more flexible and agile in its services to customers. MS Dynamics-based ERP and CRM solutions have enabled the group to listen to consumer needs, understand their impulses and align their shopping experiences accordingly. 

AO.com – strengthening the supply chain 

Online electrical retailer AO.com uses MS Dynamics to manage its finance, supply chain and commerce operations. The technology enables the company to simplify and standardise business processes to deliver a single view of customers, vendors and products. Building resilience into their supply chain and gaining real-time visibility into their inventory means AO.com can respond quickly to issues, meet fast-changing customer needs, and resolve demand and supply imbalances. 

Business change through Microsoft Dynamics 

By investing in data and better models to meet customer demands, retailers can move towards greater business success. Supply networks are vulnerable, so retailers need more transparency of inventory to plan and streamline the customer journey. 

Different retailers will be at different stages of their digital transformation journey. But to become truly data-driven and make the most of business insights, retailers need both a solid data strategy and the talent to deliver results. 

Enabling lasting change requires vision, determination and the right team of people to drive technological reinvention, which is where Talent Microsoft can help. 

If you’re looking to get the most out of MS Dynamics for your retail business, we can help you find the talent you need to harness data, streamline the customer journey and strengthen your supply chain. 

Wherever you are on your digital transformation journey, we’re here to help you make it a success. Get in touch with the team at Talent Microsoft today. 

If you’re a Microsoft professional looking for a new challenge or a business looking for Microsoft experts to represent your brand, we’re here to help. So, get in touch.

ms.talentinternational.com // zak.sheikh@talentinternational.com // + 44 7912 528 378