Carpetright is using Microsoft Dynamics to give purchasing power back to its customers

Carpetright customers will now know exactly when some of their most important home furnishings will be delivered, after the company signed up to Dynamics 365.

The retailer, one of the leading floor specialists in the UK, will use the Microsoft platform to improve how it receives orders for carpets, flooring, rugs, beds and mattresses, processes them and delivers them to homeowners.

Carpetright said Dynamics 365 will allow it to provide customers with “highly accurate delivery times and installation quotes”. This means people won’t have to take a lot of time off work to wait at home for their delivery, and they will know exactly how much the product they have bought will cost to fit.

The news came as Microsoft held a major Dynamics event at the Emirates Stadium in London (below). Entitled “Business Forward”, the conference featured businesswomen Victoria Beckham and Arianna Huffington, as well as several Microsoft executives and partners showcasing how Dynamics can help digitally transform businesses by connecting data across teams, creating personalised experiences for customers, automating processes and predicting future company needs.

Marcel Borlin, Chief Technology Officer at Carpetright, said his company will be using Dynamics 365 throughout its more than 420 stores and support offices in the UK to “transform its digital operations, enhance operational efficiency and deliver cutting-edge customer service”.

“We are impressed with the way Microsoft is addressing the main challenges facing retailers, such as the requirements for omnichannel capability, service agility, customer intimacy and achieving a single version of customer requirements,” he added.

Bing map of Emirates Stadium, where the Business Forward event was held (click to move)

“Making it easy is a key objective for us and we see Dynamics 365 delivering that, as well as giving us greater customer-focused capabilities. A key reason for selecting Dynamics 365 is that it’s fully cloud-based. We can get to information from one system that is always up-to-date, which will enable us to make quicker decisions and deploy the technology across our business faster.”

As well as getting a “single view” of customer transactions, from purchase to delivery, analytics tools inside Dynamics 365 such as Power BI and Azure Machine Learning will allow Carpetright – which also has stores in the Netherlands, Ireland and Belgium – to adapt to homeowners’ current needs and also develop new services in the future.

Chris Rothwell, Dynamics Lead at Microsoft UK, said: “I’m delighted that Carpetright has chosen Dynamics 365 as the platform to unify its systems and operations.

“Customer expectations of retailers are changing rapidly and we’re seeing more customers, like Carpetright, adopt the cloud as the way to give them greater agility, lower costs and make the most of their data to deliver against those customer expectations.”

Arianna Huffington and Judson Althoff on stage at Business Forward

Arianna Huffington and Judson Althoff on stage at Business Forward

The Business Forward event on Thursday heard from Microsoft executives Scott Guthrie, Executive Vice-President of Cloud and Enterprise; Judson Althoff, Executive Vice-President of Worldwide Commercial; and James Phillips, Corporate Vice-President of Business Applications. It was aimed at helping organisations engage with customers and optimise operations through digital transformation.

The Metropolitan Police is using Dynamics in tandem with Twitter to get more information on the 620 square miles of London it patrols, so it can help the eight million people who live there.

“We are the first police service in the UK to launch a Twitter service for people to log details of a crime. All that information is automatically fed into Dynamics,” said Para Singh, who oversees all the digital communications the Met Police receives from the public.

“We had a schoolchild tweet directly to us about a murder. Would they have called 101 [the police non-emergency number]? We also received a lot of tweets from cab drivers about anti-social behaviour. When we started engaging with them, we noticed a pattern, and we arrested the perpetrators.”

Lucy Cassidy, from Brighton and Sussex University Hospital

Lucy Cassidy, from Brighton and Sussex University Hospital, shared her experiences of Dynamics 365

Dynamics is “at the heart” of this digital platform, giving the police a better idea of events happening in real-time across the capital.

“Dynamics is a great intelligence tool, too. We can see a map of the world, and if anything starts trending on Twitter, we have a good idea of what’s going on, rather than just focusing on phone calls. Analytics from a phone call is poor, but this software allows us to get more information.

“It’s really opened our eyes to what sits behind our data.”

Dynamics 365

Dynamics 365

ACO Water Management designs and manufactures systems to take excess surface water, manage it, clean it and release it back into the natural environment. Its customers include Formula One and the Olympic Park, as well as petrol station forecourts, swimming pools and car parks.

Dynamics has “transformed” the way staff at the company work, said Peter Ridgway, Brand Development Manager.

“We got our first customer relationship management (CRM) system in 1996. It was clunky and there was a disconnect between different teams, so our sales people started keeping information in books instead of in the computer. We knew we had to gain better control of the opportunities out there and make the information we deal with more accessible. We needed a more efficient system and greater adoption from staff, and we needed to be disruptive.

Toni Townes-Whitley, corporate vice-president of Worldwide Public Sector at Microsoft, also spoke at the event

Toni Townes-Whitley, corporate vice-president of Worldwide Public Sector at Microsoft, also spoke at the event

One part of Dynamics that appealed to Ridgway was its customisation, so he could pick and choose the parts that would work for ACO – a medium-sized business in the UK that employs 220 people.

“Dynamics was a revelation. We went into board meetings and told them ‘we can make it do what we what we want it to do’.

“It was a good user experience, which was important because we needed adoption, and it was completely configurable. We spent a long time speaking to our people about what they wanted and needed, and we settled on a package we believed was going to be transformational.

“Dynamics has transformed the way our staff do business; it’s making their lives easier and more enjoyable. They can mine their own data and work better with colleagues. The user interface is much more effective, too; people are engaged with it. All of our sales teams use Dynamics, they don’t write in books anymore.”

Everything you need to know about Business Forward

Retailers can often feel like they don’t have enough insight into their customers. With Dynamics 365, they get can see purchase history, loyalty and shopping interests, among other things, and personalise shopping for customers.

JJ Food Service offers a range of fresh, chilled and frozen products to restaurants, pubs, hotels, schools, universities and local authorities across the UK. The company handles 5,000 orders a day, and uses Dynamics to ensure organisation and efficiency.

“The food service industry is old and not known for its digital platforms, but we have set the trend and are leading from the front,” said Mushtaque Ahmed, Chief Operating Officer. “Dynamics has helped us optimise our business and take it to the next level. It has helped us to optimise our processes and improve them; plus, the flexibility and customisation it offers us allows us to do things differently.”

As well as removing a lot of paper-based processes, such as stock checks and delivery notes, Dynamics has allowed JJ Food Service to serve its customers on their terms, at times that suit them.

“Back in 2008 a lot of our customer operations were call-centre-based, so people would phone us up and place an order. That call centre was only open during office hours. By digitally transforming with Dynamics, and having ecommerce and mobile app capabilities, we are now open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Our customers can order any time they want.”