The focus of the Spring ‘18 release for Retail includes an investment in service hardening and enabling new capabilities that drive our integrated and omni-channel value proposition even further.
Main features and enhancements in Retail for Dynamics 365 Spring 18 Release:
- CDX and data management - Provides improved offline capabilities to ensure that point of sale terminals continue to function during updates or internet disconnects.
Retail organizations often find it challenging to maintain connectivity everywhere at all times. It can be a disruptive and daunting task to manage and maintain full connectivity without downtime. By allowing for offline functionality that is seamless and simple to administer, retail organizations’ point of sale terminals can continue to function during software updates or internet disconnects. To facilitate easy and informative workflows, the user interface and logic around when to switch between an online connectivity and an offline functionality has been enhanced to make it clear what is occurring and how to best handle any changes to the work being done.
- Deployment and servicing - Provides resource governance between transactional and back-office workloads to ensure that long-running batch processes don't affect transactional system performance, and that peak store traffic doesn't impede back office operations.
Retail organizations, especially those with globally-distributed operations, often find it challenging to pick a single maintenance window that is simultaneously non-disruptive to their entire global operational footprint. With near-zero downtime updates, most retail store operations can continue to work even through maintenance windows. This allows organizations that prefer low/no-footprint deployment to enjoy the same level of business continuity in their stores, even with a cloud-only topology. Retailers also routinely experience significant fluctuations in customer traffic based on seasonal trends, flash sales, viral popularity, or weather events. Likewise, system load during times of statement calculation and posting, or other batch processes, can be disproportionately high. Resource governance between transactional and back-office workloads ensures that long-running batch processes don't affect transactional system performance, and that peak store traffic doesn't impede back office operations.
- End-of-day processing - Enhancements include improved statement posting performance, the addition of rollback and recovery to prevent data corruption, and enhanced in-app diagnostics that show status, errors, and logs.
End-of-day processing is a crucial element of retail operational workflow. This involves aggregation of raw transactions into meaningful business data to ensure that business and accounting rules are conformed to, before posting transactions as official business records. Improving the reliability and performance of this batch process and increasing the visibility of the processing for the administrator improves the user experience. Users can easily monitor the progress of the processing and see exactly what caused a validation failure. As a result, they can quickly resolve the issue and reliably retry the process without contacting Microsoft Support.
New capabilities include improved statement posting performance by removing table deadlocks and optimizing batch processing. The introduction of a state model in the posting process aids in rollback and recovery, which eliminates data corruption and the need for manual intervention. Enhanced in-app diagnostics with detailed status, errors, and logs (including details of transactions included in the scope of the statement, transactions resulting in errors, and possible steps to correct issues) allow for easy troubleshooting.
- Globalization: Retail localization for India - Calculation of Goods and Services Tax (GST) and value-added tax (VAT) in POS is implemented.
Retailers in India need to be able to calculate Goods and Services Tax (GST) in their POS solutions, and to post GST in Retail headquarters. Dynamics 365 for Retail was integrated with Global Tax Engine (GTE) to support GST calculation in POS. Both intrastate GST and interstate GST can be calculated, depending on the customer delivery location. GST integration is supported for normal sales and return transactions, and also for customer orders and replenishment operations. Dynamics 365 for Retail POS also supports the calculation of value-added tax (VAT) if it's required. In addition, for named customers, invoice numbers can be populated from POS receipt numbers.
- Globalization: Certified cash registers for France - New capabilities fulfill the requirements for NF525. The Retail solution is certified by an accredited body.
As of January 1, 2018, all retailers in France must use cash systems certified per the NF525 requirements. The requirements cover inalterability, security, retention, and archiving of information pertaining to cash sales. New capabilities were implemented to fulfill the NF525 requirements. These requirements were confirmed by a certificate issued by an accredited body.
- Payments - Improved tolerance when connecting to payment providers over unreliable networks. There is also a stateless payment stack to prevent payment failures from crashing the point of sale app, and improved extensibility for payment scenarios at the point of sale.
Beginning with the Spring ‘18 release, we have made investments to improve tolerance when connecting to payment providers over unreliable networks. This also includes a stateless payment stack to prevent payment failures from crashing the POS app, and improved extensibility for payment scenarios at POS. Issues with external components such as Hardware station, Payment connector, and Payment device are better handled by POS, which reduces the likelihood of POS app crashes due to payment failures. This functionality will be released incrementally through application updates starting in Spring 2018.
- Extensibility (HQ, POS, CRT) - New extension points simplify the customization model, reduce the lines of code that need to be written by customers and partners, and reduce the effort required to upgrade.
Most customers customize our product to support their business process. We made major enhancements in our retail extensibility framework to simplify the customization model, introducing a metadata and configuration-driven development experience and more advanced APIs. This new framework reduces the lines of code that need to be written and the time spent to do customizations. By using the framework, business users or power users can do simple customizations without writing any code.
We also introduced a new independent packaging model so that extensions can be packaged separately. With the new extension framework and independent packaging model, extensions can be created independently from the core app. They can then be packaged and published to AppSource or the marketplace seamlessly, and then loaded at runtime. This seamless extension model helps easily plug and unplug any new extension, app, or extension to an existing business process model. Extensions can also be serviced seamlessly without any change to the core app model. With this new model, ISVs and partners can independently develop extensions and deploy them seamlessly. POS can also load multiple extensions independently.
We are continuously enhancing the Dev Application Lifecycle Management and the extensibility framework to add more new extension features and APIs to simplify the development process and reduce the effort required for servicing the extensions.
- Monitoring and alerting - Added granularity in monitoring the health of specific user operations.
Building on existing capabilities related to monitoring of tenant and system-wide availability and reliability, this release extends these capabilities to the next level of granularity by monitoring the health of specific user operations. This ensures that, regardless of the relative volume of operations performed in a customer's tenant, business-impacting issues are immediately detected, and the reliability of the service remains high.
In addition to availability and reliability monitoring at the scenario level, performance monitoring to proactively detect performance degradations for high-value business operations has been implemented. To get comprehensive coverage, the reliability alerting capability has been extended to the client components, such as Modern POS. By seamlessly detecting issues logged at the client components, it’s now possible to detect reliability issues that are specific to the client applications and that might not otherwise have been detectable in the cloud service alone.