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Brick by interlocking brick: Three steps to leveraging a newly connected organization

woman in a video call on her laptopThere is no denying that the playing field for consumer goods companies is getting more and more challenging. Pressure is coming from consumers, shoppers, retailers, competitors, and challengers, and this powerful industry disruption is not slowing down. Intensified by COVID-19, the blinding pace of acceleration toward digital experiences has advanced 10 years of US e-commerce growth in just 90 days.

Companies that have put digital at the center of their strategic imperatives have not just weathered the pandemic disruption. Rather, they have capitalized on these investments. Today more than ever, cloud technologies that provide analytic, compute, and machine-learning technologies like Microsoft Azure, collaboration tools like Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Teams, and low-code/no-code adoption with Power Platform have helped leaders build more productive, proactive, insightful, and connected organizations.

Microsoft enables consumer goods companies to rise to today’s unique challenges, giving consumers easier access to high-quality goods while helping retailers maximize shelf execution and secure better margins through sustainable production practices and predictive models.

Beyond brick and mortar

By building an interlocking data network across online and brick-and-mortar properties, connected organizations are reassessing their operations by:

  1. Supporting and empowering the exchange of information.
  2. Enhancing the shopper journey.
  3. Predicting shopper habits to drive conversion.

Seamless and planned retail execution

Starting with internal operations, connected organizations integrate their data sources to promote greater exchange of information from the front lines to the executive offices and back again. This seamless flow of information leverages tools like Power Platform and Dynamics 365 to create a single source of truth that employees can reference for key information or rely on for making data-driven plans for the future.

Carlsberg Breweries was able to reduce stockouts and improve communication between brand representatives around the world by adopting an Azure-driven mobile IoT solution. By interconnecting reps in the field with the company’s greater distribution infrastructure, Carlsberg can empower sales teams to speak confidently about their products while streamlining production and distribution times to help ensure that everyone’s mug stays full.

These are solutions designed to scale up and down to better meet the needs and expectations of a changing enterprise. The often-unheralded champion of this cloud-connected data network is its ongoing iterative environment. While organizations adapt and scale, so, too, does the platform itself. This keeps the infrastructure running even as industries evolve. Now, instead of putting off inevitable upgrades, connected organizations are constantly on the bleeding edge of innovation without so much as the push of a button.

Disrupt with convenience

As online retail continues to thrive, the organizations that benefit from this growth are the ones taking a proactive approach to disrupting the customer experience. Every day, millions of decision makers weigh conflicting choices for themselves, their businesses, and their families. The visionaries in this space are those who have found new ways to engage shoppers with the right message at the right time.

By reducing obstacles and streamlining the path to purchase, connected organizations inject greater convenience into the customer journey. Single-click purchases, recalling customer information, and direct-to-consumer (DTC) certainly introduced consumers and organizations to the early stages of disruption. But as organizations dedicate resources to greater point-of-purchase innovations, new solutions continue to emerge.

Convert to purchase

While connected organizations can use their data capabilities to create more efficient processes and disruptive products, this consolidation also introduces an opportunity to optimize stories and predict shopper habits to better engage consumers at every stage of their journey.

Across the United States, G&J Pepsi is leveraging Power Platform to adapt its in-store marketing strategies through a Store Audit application. With this app, Pepsi can monitor display performance and optimize layout, designs, quantities, and other variables to increase conversion rates and better understand customer habits.

Their ability to process and distribute data empowers connected organizations to optimize their sales efforts in order to find the ideal tactics for converting. By consolidating performance metrics into a shared resource, decision makers and strategists can generate insights on a macro level to better optimize specific displays to the preferences of key audiences in particular regions.

Incredibly, a seven-person, nontechnical team created this Store Audit app and others, including a merchandising app, which are used by more than 900 field personnel. These apps saved the organization about $500,000 in the first year, and they also reduced outsourcing costs by $240,000 in the same time period. Those are powerful applications.

Identifying the right half to personalize, personalize, personalize

As an industry, consumer goods professionals recognize that nearly half of our promotion and marketing efforts produce few to no results. The challenge has always been identifying which half is working and which is not.

The first step to building brand affinity and connection with your consumers is creating a platform that identifies them (customer data platforms). From there, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning can generate identity resolution at a granular level and improve multichannel personalization for shopper conversation. AI-driven marketing performance can then reveal short-term revenue and long-term customer lifetime value, helping organizations determine the right half of investment spending.

The coming months will be critical for organizations as they continue to develop their internal technology strategies. As technology increases its role in our daily operations, considering the opportunities that come with connection ought to be top of mind for any decision maker weighing their future. Want to learn more about how next-generation technologies can get you ahead of a changing market? 5 Ways to Outsmart Your Consumer Goods Competition takes this conversation further into how connected organizations are separating themselves from the market.