How Retailers Can Drive Productivity with Microsoft Power Platform

How Retailers Can Drive Productivity with Microsoft Power Platform

The modern retailer is challenged with sustaining business growth and accelerating new product innovation without losing one’s eye on the customer. Here are the challenges faced by retailers:

  • How to transform a potential customer into a loyal customer.
  • Move from disparate, siloed reporting to a single source of truth.
  • Create a foundation for advanced operational analytics.
  • Improve customer experience and innovate by leveraging data.

The risk of losing customers to competitors is a common fear of the retailer. It can only be overcome when retailers adapt a strategy that allows them to create a meaningful and useful experience for the customer. What is needed is an architecture that helps in identifying the customer’s changing tastes and how to make better decisions with changing behaviours. The way forward is in adopting flexible and adaptive systems. AI Builder, Power Apps portals, Power BI, Microsoft flow – helps to create automated workflows between your favourite apps and services to get notifications, synchronize files, collect data, and more.


What are AI Builder and Power Apps and How They are Beneficial for Different Industries

In order to leverage AI and machine learning to make apps and automation more intelligent, AI builder provides solutions for app makers to solve everyday tasks like – forms processing, object detection, and text and binary classification.

Where Power Apps enable the employees to create apps for business, AI builder enables in adding AI capabilities to those apps. Banking, hospitality, manufacturing and many more industries are potential users for AI builders. In the retail industry, forms processing can be used for invoices or tax forms to extract information from these documents. Object detection – In the retail industry, it can be used to simplify inventory management, allowing retail leaders to focus on on-site customer relationship building. For instance, a retailer can improve customer service by using AI to analyze customer feedback responses, map them into categories, and generate an AI model to classify and respond to customer feedback as it is received.

The manufacturer, distributor, marketer of the full line of Pepsi-Cola products giant G&J Pepsi has more than 1600 employees. The G&J Pepsi IT team uses AI Builder and Power Apps to create the next generation of their Store Audit App, enabling better mobility and efficiency for field personnel whose job is to assess product needs on the shelves in stores.

“With AI Builder, we were able to easily build an AI model to help automatically identify and track our products using the object detection model. For our field worker, it’s now as simple as taking a photo and letting AI builder do the rest.” – Eric McKinney, Enterprise Business Systems Manager at G&J Pepsi.

AI Builder makes it easier for users and organizations to optimize processes and intelligence without having advanced knowledge of how AI works. The no-code AI builder capability is also coming to Microsoft Flow. Flow provides a visual experience for a range of users.


How Microsoft Flow Extracts Meaningful Data from Images and Text

Today, many processes involve paper forms such as a rental or job application. Historically, the first step in processing these forms would be to have someone look at the paper and manually type in each of the fields on their PC.

Now with AI Builder and Microsoft Flow, flows can automatically pick up scanned documents from an incoming email or a file server and recognize all the content. Based on the values in the form, different steps can run—from sending out simple notifications to performing a credit check.

For instance, the field teams at G&J Pepsi have always embraced technology on behalf of their customers. When the IT department was tasked with delivering more on-the-go services for the company, they embraced the opportunities and challenges. By using Microsoft Power Apps, Power BI, and Microsoft Flow, the seven-person team created custom applications to automate the company’s store audit and merchandising process. They were able to build, deploy, and manage this scalable end-to-end solution without previous app development experience.

Power BI dashboards visualize the data for quick overviews and deep dives into the numbers, and Microsoft Flow—another cloud-based service—triggers alerts to the relevant teams.

Microsoft Flow for Retail
Image source: Microsoft

Microsoft Flow enables users to automatically process and route analog forms. The retailer doesn’t have to remember everything. The AI builder learns and improves itself. For example, it can predict the risk of an application and, depending on how high that risk is, add additional approval actions to a business process. All of this is possible for Flow makers without having any expertise or experience with AI.


What is Blockchain and How it is Used in Power Apps and Microsoft Flow

Blockchain can bring trust and transparency to business processes that span multiple business partners.

Applications built on blockchain using Power Apps and Microsoft?Flow?can easily create attestable workflows that bring together data from every point in the business process across the value chain. For mobile clients, Power Apps can effortlessly capture all of the information from the phone’s sensors (barcodes, photos, GPS coordinates, etc.) and send it to a smart contract on a blockchain.

Some industry examples that leverage the power of blockchain and the Power Platform include:

  • Multi-party supply chain: manage shrinkage risk between point-of-manufacturing and point-of-sales by building applications and workflows that provide irrefutable proof of delivery of shipments.
  • Food safety: retailers can get real-time insights when goods that can be impacted by temperature and humidity are in transit. Blockchain can provide real-time insight with trustworthy data that can help avoid costly public health issues, streamline return processes, and dispute resolution.
  • Attest genuine media: Build applications that can attest and/or validate that media is genuine with Power Apps and Flow.

What is Power BI and How it Helps Retailers

Power BI has been a pioneer in applying AI to business intelligence and making AI accessible to everyone. New AI capabilities enable retailers to detect objects in images, analyze free-form text, build new machine learning models, and automatically understand what drives outcomes, all with point-and-click simplicity.

Kinepolis is a cinema group operating 53 complexes throughout Belgium, The Netherlands, France, Spain, Luxembourg, Switzerland, and Poland, as well as 44 cinemas in Canada. The company uses Power BI AI capabilities to understand how they can improve their visitor experience by analyzing the sentiment of customer reviews and tweets.

“Kinepolis serves visitors in and from many countries, who vocalize their opinion through various channels. With text analytics in Power BI, we are able to structure and analyze all this feedback. It allows us to score the sentiment of our visitor reviews without investing in the data science behind it.” – Carlo Wambeke, technical lead BI at Kinepolis.

A retailer can make better and informed decisions, improve operations with Microsoft Flow – with built-in AI builder, Power Apps portals and Power BI – without having any expertise or experience with AI.

Sysfore, A Microsoft Cloud solution provider and a Gold Partner, uses a leading network, technology, and service expertise to deliver our service anytime, virtually anywhere, quickly and efficiently. We have helped over 80 small enterprises and 30 mid-sized enterprises across the globe for successful cloud migration in the past 8 years. Contact our experts today and we will help you find the perfect solution for your business. Write to us at or give us a call at +91 (80) 4110 5555


Top 5 Trends Revolutionizing Customer Service in the Manufacturing Industry

Top 5 Trends Revolutionizing Customer Service in the Manufacturing Industry

The digital revolution in manufacturing has given rise to Industry 4.0. The advances in automation, robotics, big data analytics, human-machine interaction, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT) has made current industries smarter. The modern manufacturing plant is now able to capture and harness large volumes of data generated from various operations. Big data analytics and AI, especially, has helped unlock enormous value from the data captured which has changed the nature in which the industries work.

Industry 4.0 has also created a connected ecosystem between manufacturers and customers. Customers and business buyers are now more empowered than ever before and can exercise informed choice in choosing manufacturers.

Customer experience in the manufacturing industry

Source: The state of service in manufacturing


Need for Customer Centricity in the Manufacturing Industry

The connected ecosystem has created a global marketplace where manufacturers cannot solely rely on price or quality of their products as the primary differentiators. Customers now demand more from manufacturers than just on-time production and delivery. A recent research by Salesforce states that over half (52%) of manufacturing executives with service oversight say their company has an increasingly difficult time competing based on product differentiation. Among that same group, 86% believe customer experience is a key competitive differentiator. Customer centricity in the manufacturing industry is no longer a value-add but a necessity. Adopting a customer-centric approach and delivering personalized services is helping manufacturing companies to win customer loyalty and grow their businesses.

Here are the top 5 trends revolutionizing customer service in the manufacturing industry:

  1. Increased investment in customer service
    Apart from investing in R&D to optimize operations and improve product quality, manufacturers are now investing more in improving customer service. Over two-thirds (68%) of manufacturing service teams have increased budgets over the past two years and 69% forecast budget increases over the next two years.
  2. Building deep customer relationships
    Customer service teams are focused on building deep relationships with their customers. Service teams have built comprehensive customer views to help them understand a customer’s full history with the company. This has helped the service teams to provide personalized support and a consistent experience across all channels to their customers.
  3. Proactive servicing and predictive maintenance
    The Industrial Internet of Things is enabling manufacturers to provide predictive maintenance services to their customers. With the help of connected sensors and devices, manufacturers are able to anticipate and offer proactive customer service before a need arises.
  4. Omnichannel services to meet the needs of connected customers
    Manufacturing service teams have moved beyond call centres and routine visits by field service teams to providing streamlined consistent experiences across multiple channels. Customers now have access to self-service portals like knowledge bases, online forums and on-demand support through channels such as live chat support (voice & video), mobile apps, support through social media channels and dedicated customer portals.
  5. Artificial Intelligence for customer service
    Forward-thinking manufacturers are already researching on how they can use AI to improve customer service. One such research is on the use of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to run self-diagnosis to offer predictive maintenance. 73% of business buyers expect that, by 2020, companies will provide products that can self-diagnose issues and automatically order replacement parts or service.

Connected customers have high expectations from manufacturers. The digital revolution has now enabled dissatisfied customers to easily take their business elsewhere. Customer service teams, which earlier used to be cost centers are proving to be the key differentiator for manufacturing companies. The top manufacturers of the world have already increased their investment on customer service teams, modernizing services and streamlining communication to provide a consistent experience across channels, it is now up to the others to join the bandwagon to stay afloat in this competitive market.

Smartify 365 – a comprehensive customer engagement solution designed for the distribution and manufacturing industry

Smartify 365 delivers operational excellence alongside intelligent sales and customer experience to businesses in the manufacturing and distribution industry to quickly manage multiple vital operations effectively from the central application. Built on top of the robust Microsoft Dynamics 365 customer engagement platform, Smartify 365 supports businesses to harness cross-sell opportunities and unearth other streams of revenue. By clearly defining various users and roles, it is designed to seamlessly enable collaboration between different departments in an organization and achieve higher productivity.

Some of the key modules and features of Smartify 365 are as below:

  1. Sales engagement
  2. Warranty management
  3. Service management
  4. Work Order Management
  5. Country-specific accounting localization

Read more about Smartify 365 here


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Driving Customer Experience in the Automotive Industry

Driving Customer Experience in the Automotive Industry

The automotive industry is going through a transition – consumers have more reasons than ever to forego car ownership due to shared mobility and the increasing popularity of ride-sharing apps. While autonomous vehicles, connectivity, electrification, and shared mobility (ACES) will open new economic opportunities in the automobile industry, legacy car dealers will find it increasingly difficult to sell cars in the coming years.

According to a research report by Accenture, the market for privately owned cars is expected to shrink dramatically. By 2030, revenues from manufacturing and selling vehicles will be only marginally higher than what they are today, and that profits from car sales will even shrink slightly (from €126 billion to €122 billion). The rate of car ownership is expected to go down because of 2 main reasons:

  1. Rise in popularity of ride-sharing apps and shared mobility
  2. Shift in view of car ownership amongst Millennials

The growing disconnect between consumers and automotive companies

According to McKinsey, millennials will represent more than 45% of the potential car-buying cohort in 2025, making them the largest new-car-purchasing demographic. The growth of ride-sharing companies and the ease of service they offer has created a shift in view of car ownership among Millennials.

Customer Experience in the Automotive Industry

Thanks to consumer-tech companies like Amazon, Airbnb, Uber and Ola, consumers now expect a seamless customer experience. The time has come for companies in the automotive industry to adopt a similar model by keeping customers at the heart of their business. The car dealers/franchises should be able to provide an end-to-end customer experience from pre-sale to after sale support to stay competitive under these market conditions. To do this, companies should:

  1. Build authentic customer relationships
    Dealers should be able to reclaim customer conversations, understand their preferences and adapt to their needs.
  2.  Deliver unforgettable customer service
    Dealers should get ahead of their game and offer proactive support to consumers by anticipating what they need. Companies should also be able to provide personalized omnichannel communication and 24/7 support services.

A case for better customer service

The greatest disconnect between consumers and companies lies in after-sale support. Consumers spend just about 15 hours buying a new car as compared to about 50 hours having it serviced during the time of ownership. A survey by McKinsey states that customers considered the service experience more influential than the last buying experience when purchasing their next car. Delivering exceptional after-sales support and keeping the customer engaged is key to building customer loyalty and keep them from looking at other dealers.

Importance of Customer Experience in the Automotive Industry

Analyst firm IDC estimates that manufacturers who successfully use service-quality measures to enhance the customer experience will have 20% more aftermarket revenue than their peers.


Digitizing Operations and Customer Experience

Due to the size of operations and costs involved, car companies have not yet digitized their operations. There are also very few customer service solutions that are built specifically for the automotive industry.

Smartify 365, built on top of the robust Microsoft Dynamics 365 customer engagement platform, helps automotive companies to deliver exceptional customer service and increase operational efficiency. Using a customer service management system like Smartify 365 will help automotive companies to:

  1. Streamline customer service
    Manage customer service requests efficiently through a structured approach for handling service request, ticket management and resolution tracking.
  2. Build customer relationships
    Exceed customer expectations by offering proactive and personalized support with the help of comprehensive customer views.
  3. Get a unified view of business operations
    Connect people, processes, and customer service data to make intelligent decisions supported by analytics and AI.
  4. Drive operational efficiency through data-driven reporting
    Get a bird’s eye view of all operations through intuitive dashboards which will help them improve efficiency and reduce costs.

The customer is now firmly in the driver’s seat.  With the disruption of the automotive industry by ride-sharing apps and shared mobility services, consumers now view car ownership as less of a necessity. Automotive companies should let go of legacy sales and customer service models and offer consumer-tech like experiences to their customers to stay competitive under the new market conditions.


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Contact one of our experts today to learn how you can implement Smartify 365 in your organization and find the perfect solution for your business. Write to us at or give us a call at +91 (80) 4110 5555 for a free consultation.