Ever since D365 Finance & Operations V10, we’re in the Managed Updates model which aligns all Customers on a similar Platform Version – It’s the so called “One Version” strategy which brings a lot of benefits. But is there really ONE VERSION in reality? We have License keys, Parameter modules, SysFlighting and Feature Management which already contains 250+ Features in V10.0.11 PEAP. Did you all enable them? If you sum all these parameters, D365 Finops installations can fundamentally differ even if the underlying Platform version is similar.
Now with D365 Retail (Commerce) there is yet another variable – A relatively new Retail/Commerce Parameter area which is controlling Retail functionality behind the scenes… In this blog post we’ll dig out all the Features that can be enabled from here. Fellow Functional and Technical D365 Retail/Commerce consultants sit tight: this area is likely to become more and important in the future. It can also be really helpful for your own customisations.
Did you know that D365 for Retail contains more than 400 out-of-box Retail APIs (for the non-techies: interfaces) ranging from Loyalty management, Gift card management, Omni order management to Stock counting and Retail Logistics? These interfaces allow you to easily integrate with any 3rd party systems like e-commerce platforms, POS systems and Consumer Apps. It also allows you to quickly enrich your Retail Solution with handy Power Apps, for example for in-store Goods receipt, Stock counting, Labelling or Clienteling.
Unfortunately I still notice that many Customers and Partners do not consider the Retail APIs in their designs, which goes around all the ‘free’ Retail Business Logic which comes with them. Instead, Customers and Partners start a custom coding exercise (re-inventing the wheel!) which often limits rather than empowers the Omni-channel capabilities of D365.
This is all mainly caused by the lack of documentation – It’s time to change that! In this series of blog posts we’ll explore the Power of the Retail API’s so we can all benefit from them by using them to enhance the Retail experience for the Retail Businesses we serve. As we need the non-techies on this journey, I’ll try to make it understandable for all of us. Making the right Architectural decisions starts with a good understanding of the solution. So let’s dive into that first!
1 – D365 Retail API Architecture explained
D365 Retail comes with 3 major components – Below description is a little bit technical, but it’s good to keep these components in mind for a better understanding of the main picture (picture 1) below:
Let’s go through each element in the picture, step-by-step:
The Letter. An app (e.g. a POS system, e-commerce platform or Power App) can send a request to 1 of the 400+ D365 Retail end points. This request can be to Request information such as the loyalty balance of a customer or to Send information.
The public Mailbox. Metaphorically you can compare this request with a letter which is dropped into a mailbox. The mailbox in this case is the ODATA end point of Retail Server (1A). It’s a public mailbox, so any App can drop letters in there. But there are 2 prerequisites which need to be met to allow this: the App needs to be a registered ‘member’ in the Receiver’s domain and the App must have received a pre-authorisation code (token) which needs to be sent with the letter.
The Internal Mailbox. Once successfully received in the public (ODATA) Retail Server mailbox, the letter (request) is forwarded to an internal mailbox: a specific Commerce Run Time (CRT) operation (1B). This CRT operation is responsible for processing the letter. In order to get this done, the CRT operation contacts 1 or multiple Retail Services (1C).
Processing of the letter. The Retail Services work with subcontractors. There are 2 types of subcontractors: Data services which can read/write information from/to the local Retail Database or Remote Data services which can receive/send information from/to the D365 backend. The Retail Services have been instructed (programmed) to contact either of the subcontractors or both subcontractors to process a certain letter (request). For example, a letter to update the Loyalty Balance for a customer is forwarded to the D365 backend (since other Apps should work against the latest balance) whereas a new customer is created both in the local Retail Database and forwarded to the D365 Backend. In some case the Retail Service has to read specific parameter settings first to determine which subcontractor to forward the work to. These parameters have been set in D365 backend but are locally available for the Retail Services after sync to the local Retail Database. For example, a parameter which controls whether e-com orders are created into the local Retail database (and from there synched to D365 backend in bulk) or whether these orders are forwarded to the D365 backend in real time.
Another Public mailbox. Remote Data Service ‘Subcontractors’ will drop the original letter in the Public mailbox of the D365 Backend: a SOAP mailbox, often referred to as Real Time Service (2A). This mailbox has a trust relationship with the Remote Data Service ‘subcontractor’ which is confirmed by a certificate.
Another Internal mailbox. Very much similar to the way Retail Server is organized, the agent looking after the Real Time Service mailbox, forwards the letter to an internal mailbox for processing: the RetailTransactionService class in the D365 Backend (2B). From there, Retail Services in the D365 backend take care of the actual processing which ties into many standard D365 (Retail) classes packed with Business Logic (2C and 2D). For example in case of customer creation, these services will include the customer in the address book of the Retail channel, assign Retail affiliations and Customer attributes. In other words: even though not all this information was part of the original letter, the Retail Services ensure the letter is processed in line with D365 (Retail) Parameters settings and Retail Business Logic.
Response. As a sender of a letter, you’d love to get a response on your respect, right? This is organized as follows: whenever an exception occurs somewhere across the chain of ‘middlemen’ subcontractors as described above, the exception is written into a response letter which is returned to the sender (the App) following the chain in reverse order. If no exceptions occur, the original letter will reach it’s final destination. There, a response letter is written which is an in-depth response on the actual request, for example a response letter full of information on a newly created customer. Similar to what happens in case of an exception, the response letter is returned to sender following the chain in reverse order.
In below video I am trying to illustrate how powerful the Retail APIs can be. In the video, I am using Microsoft Forms (an Office 365 App) to capture information as part of an imaginary Customer Sign up process. Power Automate picks up the information and forwards it to D365 Retail Server to create the customer in the D365 backend in real time. As you will see in the video, the standard D365 Retail Business logic is fully utilized here as if the customer was captured on D365 MPOS: for example, the new customer is automatically included in the Retail channel’s address book.
3. The potential
The left Table below provides a break down of the Retail areas the 400+ Retail APIs apply to. A significant number of these APIs are built to provide real time data exchange with the D365 backend. The right table below presents the Retail areas for which real time connectivity to the D365 backend is supported.
Looking at the functional breadth of the Retail APIs and the video in this blog post, I hope you’re inspired to think about all the opportunities provided by the D365 Retail APIs. In upcoming blog posts on this topic, we’ll make deeper dives into the various aspects of these Retail APIs so we can all use this knowledge to further enrich the D365 Retail experience for our customers.
We’ve all seen it many times in our projects.. Being under pressure to close these last P1 and P2 bugs by making some quick config changes in UAT, we forget to keep a record of what we did and to bring this into our Golden Config environment. And then, after cutover to Production, our users are confronted with the same issues as before.. How great would it be if we can prevent this with an extra ‘lock on the door’?More
Overlooking many recent Dynamics 365 implementations, it seems that Microsoft’s marketing strategy of ‘marrying’ Dynamics AX and CRM into one Dynamics 365 family is paying off. More and more customers are choosing for the package deal of Operations and Sales. However, as always, the marketing machine is ahead of the troops: with the current state of the integration of the products, we need to be creative in order to make the two systems feel like one.
In this blog post I’ll unveil an effective way to let Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales (CRM) interact with Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations (ERP)…
We’re so used to the speed of current evolvements around Microsoft Dynamics AX (or should I say Dynamics 365 ;-)), that most of us who are interested in integrations have familiarized themselves for long with concepts like data entities and entity stores. In this blog post, I would like to go beyond the ‘obvious’ by sharing 1 year of personal project experience in working with AX7 Data Management.
To enable you to quickly scan this blog post according to your own points of interest, I have listed my experiences in a top 10-alike pattern in random order.
I onboarded the AX7 technical conference this week with the impression that AX7 was ‘just’ a new UI exposing AX2012R3CU9 code on a new platform with some adjustments to ‘make it work’ on the new Azure platform. But already after the first keynote I felt embarrassed about my initial thoughts which quickly made place for respect and amaze for this enormous leap in technology.
I can only compare the way Dynamics AX has developed in the last 10 years with a boxing game: initially, the boxers tease and challenge each other by some quick targeted moves. But the game really takes off when one of them finds his ‘punch’ (say with the release of AX2012) The opponent is driven towards the corner of the boxing arena and receives punch after punch, each punch having bigger impact. I think AX7 is at the core of this ‘momentum’. In this blog I’ll share the main ‘punches’ and my personal interpretation of what’s going on. If you want to dig deeper then visit the publicly available AX7 wiki.
Business processes and interfaces often go hand in hand: it’s often either a business event triggering an interface or a business event following up on incoming interface data. For example: automatically creating pick orders and updating the related order statuses in the E-commerce frontend. In our aim for maximum comfort for both the business user as well as the system administrator, how can we automate this type of business events and interfaces in a combined way?
In this blog post I’ll boil the necessary standard AX ingredients into a configuration which allows you to reach this goal. I’ll also show you how to leverage this configuration to completely automate the following example flows:
Flow 1: importing transactions from a (3rd party) sales channel, converting the transactions to sales orders and sending an acknowledgement to the channel that the order import was successful or unsuccessful.
Flow 2: updating the on hand stock for the different channels and sending the stock levels to the sales channels.
Flow 3: creating picking lists for the incoming orders and informing the sales channel on the ‘picking’ status.
When you have this running, it’s like simulating a factory with Lego: when your order pickers come in in the morning they’ll find the picking lists on the printer; the sales channels can work with the latest stock levels and order statuses and by leveraging role center your system administrator sits in his control room waiting for any exception to occur which requires intervention – Sounds almost like a real factory… right?
Say we have non-Retail B2B sales and B2C weborders in 1 company. We sell the same items through these channels. We expect the financial dimension values for the same financial dimensions to appear on our order lines but… they differ between these scenarios… HUH?And at invoicing we get stuck (posting is cancelled) as in the B2C scenario we miss a mandatory financial dimension value CostCenter… ARGGGGG! More
With the ongoing hunt for implementing ‘omnichannel strategies’ by Retail companies and the booming Microsoft Dynamics AX market, there must be a huge demand for integrating Microsoft Dynamics AX Retail with 3rd party POS and 3rd party E-commerce platforms. But when I google the internet for keywords like “AX 2012”, “Integration”, “3rd party”, “POS” and “E-commerce”, there are not too many hits. And if I find any hits, discussions quickly seem to head for the same solution: AIF (Application Integration Framework).
In my vision leveraging AIF in the Dynamics AX Retail area is a missed opportunity. To prove this and to provide more information regarding Dynamics AX Retail/3rd party integration in general, I’ve decided to write a series of blogs regarding this topic. In this blog post you can find the solution which I’ve recently implemented for a globally operating Retailer based on: Standard AX Retail CDX (Commerce Data Exchange). Here’s a picture of the entire architecture as described in the blog.