The world around us is changing. Precipitated by impacts of the COVID-19 global pandemic, a number of trends are serving to transform how people live their daily lives. Highlighted predominantly by an accelerated digitization of the environment around us, the ways in which we communicate and share information has been altered. It’s also changed the way consumers like to engage with their favourite brands, increasing their shopping expectations. For retailers operating across the country, it means becoming more nimble and agile and honing the capacity to quickly shift and pivot in order to respond effectively in the face of disruption and changing market conditions. In fact, it’s an ability that Nora Gulesserian, President at Moneysworth & Best Quality Shoe Care, says is critical toward ensuring the continued growth and success of any brand during these difficult times.
“There’s been so much disruption within the industry over the course of the past couple of years,” says Gulesserian. “Just about every department throughout the entire retail organization has been impacted, from pressures being placed on store and area managers who are dealing with a shortage of store staff, to the uncertainty that currently surrounds the retail supply chain, and everything in between. It’s been an incredibly challenging time. However, it’s also been a time during which some lessons have been learned. Retailers everywhere have been forced to reassess their operations and the way they do things in order to find efficiencies and mitigate risks. It’s more important today than ever before to stay ahead of the curve with respect to addressing challenges and discovering opportunities for your business. To do this, retailers have got to explore and leverage innovative technologies, taking their business to the next level.”
Centralized data and information
To help Moneysworth & Best Quality Shoe Care achieve this target, it implemented and began using Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central at head office. Gulesserian says that for the nearly 40-year-old Canadian-owned and operated family-run business with 22 franchise locations in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec, the introduction of the business management solution was a game-changer. Designed with the needs of small- and medium-sized businesses in mind, Business Central offers a number of tools that support the automation and streamlining of a number of business processes, helping business owners overcome challenges, more easily identify opportunities and free up their time to develop strategy. However, what’s most impressive about the suite of solutions, says Gulesserian, is the way in which it centralizes business information and data, eliminating the need to draw reports and figures from multiple sources.
“Business Central integrates seamlessly into the Microsoft suite of programs, which makes it incredibly easy to use and navigate,” she says. “The fact that it includes continuous updates and features to drive effective and efficient workflows has allowed us to tighten our operation in areas, reducing costs. And, because people can access the system locally and remotely removes the need for them to physically be at their desk to leverage it. One of the greatest advantages of Business Central, however, is the fact that it’s maintained within a single database for all of the necessary and relevant information on items, customers and vendors. And, with financial statements at the tips of our fingers, we’re able to drill down to the granular level and capture insights that we never could have otherwise, informing business decisions and strategy.”
Simplifying the business
The catalyst behind Moneysworth & Best Quality Shoe Care’s decision to explore Microsoft 365 Business central was its need to meet a specialized electronic data interchange requirement (EDI). And, in its quest to discover a solution while working with EDI service provider and Microsoft Business Central Partner, VOX Ism, it was suggested that they reach out to the leading technology provider. The company was immediately impressed by the customizable and adaptable suite of options that have been built in order to meet the needs of today’s small- and medium-sized businesses. Enabling retailers to better manage their finances, manufacturing, sales, shipping, project management, services, and more, Business Central removes much from guesswork out of day-to-day operations. According to Sherief Ibrahim, General Manager of Business Applications at Microsoft Canada, it unburdens business owners and their teams, allowing them to focus on execution.
“When you’re a small business owner, you tend to wear a lot of hats,” he says. “Business Central covers a wide gamut of business processes that small- and medium-sized businesses have to worry about. In essence, it’s a cloud solution that helps pull data together from different sources, informing decision-making and allowing merchants the flexibility to manage their business in real-time. It makes communication with customers easier and more effective, enabling the ability to pull customer data in an instant. It’s a solution that goes a long way toward simplifying the retail business, eliminating the need to interface with multiple applications. In addition, because of the access to the centralized data, siloes within organizations are removed, allowing team members to more easily share information and insights that will benefit the operation.”
Bringing data to life
In addition to the use of Business Central, Microsoft also offers its ground-breaking Power BI – a solution which easily integrates with the Microsoft stack, equipping retailers and their teams with the ability to discover insights hidden in their data that they wouldn’t have otherwise. Power BI is a solution that Ibrahim describes as extraordinary with respect to the potential that it presents its user, providing retailers with the opportunity to begin predicting and forecasting like they never have before, benefitting their business immensely.
“Business Central is the solution that helps retailers manage their businesses more effectively, providing them with a real-time view into their performance through the generation of data and information,” he explains. “But where that data and information really starts to come to life is through the use of Power BI. And because it, too, is highly customizable, presenting concise and meaningful visualizations, business owners are able to leverage the solution to pull all of the data together to make informed decisions, like what to stock, what to buy and which customers to spend more time with. The artificial intelligence capabilities within the solution make it incredibly useful in making sense of your data and putting it to work for your business.”
Predictive and insightful
Driven by the predictive qualities of artificial intelligence technology, Power BI allows all departments and team members within a business to access custom and static reports that can be used to identify challenges and areas to optimize as well as opportunities for growth. It’s been leveraged by Moneysworth & Best Quality Shoe Care, in conjunction with Business Central, to help it do just that. According to the company’s President, it’s been significantly impactful on the business, helping to not only manage and inform business decisions, but to assess and evaluate performance of staff with substantially greater accuracy and understanding.
“Thanks to the ability of Power BI with respect to visualizing data, it helped management realize that a particular staff member who appeared to be ‘underperforming’ was actually going above and beyond their responsibilities by resolving issues and helping others within their team, something that was not evident by just monitoring productivity using dated traditional methods,” she explains. “This was a real eye opener for the entire team and helped to further solidify the position of the individual within the company and their team. It’s too easy to conclude that someone is underperforming. With data to back up staff productivity, it helps to slice and dice other metrics to benchmark with. You can’t fix what you can’t see. Power BI reports have helped open our eyes and ultimately improve our staff experience within their working environment.
Increased efficiency and performance
Gulesserian goes on to explain that the company currently leverages over 20 Power BI reports that are accessed by its purchasing, sales, production, receiving, order planning and processing and management teams. She says that there have been numerous other discoveries similar to the example she provides, adding that they have all resulted in the uncovering of multiple efficiencies and enhanced team performance. And, they are results that Microsoft’s Ibrahim says are facilitated by the power inherent in the solutions the technology leader provides its clients, adding that, in light of the recent challenges faced by the industry and the digitization of its expanding ecosystem, there isn’t a better time for merchants to begin harnessing their potential than now.
“Many retailers are perhaps a little hesitant to invest in this type of platform, fearing that there will be extensive employee training involved and requiring them to have new business flows and processes. But the fact of the matter is that with this type of technology, retailers can be up and running in just months. It’s been designed to be extremely intuitive and easy to use with lots of training available. Merchants don’t need to wait for that compelling moment that makes them feel as though they’re required to make the investment. By doing so now, they ensure that their business becomes exponentially more agile, efficient and productive, increasing their competitiveness and success, enabling them to get ahead of the digital curve.”
For more information on how Microsoft 365 Business can help grow your business, visit Microsoft Dynamics 365 and get in touch.
*Retail Insider partnered with Microsoft for this article. For more information, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org