8 November 2022

Product Recommendation Engine: Use AI in D365 to Recommend Products to Rental Customers

Product recommendation engine- innovation in D365 rental software to boost sales

Any business, regardless of the industry, wants to improve sales and enhance customer experience. This is even more important for companies renting or selling products, equipment, machinery, etc.

How can you, as an equipment rental company or industrial manufacturing business, ensure you are taking care of your customer’s current and future needs? Are you incorporating the latest technologies, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve your selling processes?

If you find yourself asking these questions, we can help!

With 17+ years of experience in the equipment rental and industrial manufacturing business, we have empowered international enterprises by leveraging the power of DynaRent, a cloud-based, rental-specific software solution embedded in Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Supply Chain Management.

This article will take you through how you can enhance customer experience, improve sales, and drive growth with our latest innovation in the DynaRent solution, the Product Recommendation Engine.

Current situation of the equipment rental industry

Data is the lifeblood for any business to thrive. Many equipment rental and industrial manufacturing companies already have loads of data available to them. But it doesn’t end there — the key is, what are you doing with all the data you have?

Conventional businesses that sell or rent out construction equipment, heavy machinery, medical devices, high-tech products, etc., are still far from adopting big data and digital transformation.

However, eCommerce businesses like Amazon have realized the power of digital operations and harnessed it to grow multifold.

Apart from hosting all their operations and transactions online – one thing eCommerce businesses do is offer their customers an overview of related items or products they can rent or buy along with the products they have selected.

That is where concepts of data mining, machine learning, and artificial intelligence come into the picture.

This functionality of recommending products based on machine learning is the genesis of our functionality – Product Recommendation Engine built within DynaRent.

What is a Product Recommendation Engine?

In the age of Big Data and the massive hype around it, incorporating artificial intelligence in your business strategy is more critical than ever.

A Product Recommendation Engine is a user-friendly, no-code feature that helps in contextual and intuitive cross-selling using artificial intelligence (AI) through machine learning techniques.

According to a McKinsey study, sales teams employing AI reduce call durations by up to 70%. 54% of executives say that AI solutions have increased productivity in their businesses, based on a PwC study.

At To-Increase, we strongly believe in continuous innovation to make our products better and smarter for our customers. Our product and software development teams actively collaborate to stay ahead of market demands and industry trends — and our latest innovation: 'Product Recommendation Engine,' is the result of this.

With this functionality, you can train your item recommendation model through machine learning using data collected from previous customer rental orders over a period, enhancing the usability of DynaRent.

What are the benefits of To-Increase’s Product Recommendation Engine?

1. Increase in sales

Driving sales is one of the primary advantages of this functionality. Research by McKinsey states that 67% of shoppers expect relevant product recommendations from the businesses they buy from.

When you know which products are rented or bought together, you can propose them as ‘recommended items’ to your customers and ultimately increase the number of products they rent or purchase.

For example, while purchasing a scissor lift, the recommendation might be to consider purchasing extra guardrails.

2. Improved cross-selling

You can offer your customers products that are 'compatible with' or 'supplementary to' the ones they are renting or purchasing. In the near future, you will also have insight into whether the supplementary rental items you have set up are relevant based on your customer's rental and purchase history and accordingly recommend related products to them.

This boosts contextual cross-selling and lets you be more precise with your product recommendations.

3. Better user experience

Having related products recommended to your customers through evidence-based data heightens your user experience. You can see ‘frequently bought together items’ and ‘supplementary rental items’ for every rental order.

With quick access to the product recommendations, this functionality fits seamlessly within the DynaRent solution.

4. Easy to set up

As a no-code solution, the Product Recommendation Engine is a self-set-up functionality with minimum user configuration. You can use the functionality on your own, with a basic understanding of the type and location of your data.

Our in-house experts will enable the function, assist you in troubleshooting (if required), and provide you with an installation guide, after which you can use the functionality.

5. Data security

The best part of this functionality is that you will be able to host your data, guaranteeing that your data is always safe and secure. After we enable it, you can choose to activate the functionality and begin training your model based on the selected data sets.

6. Highly flexible

Apart from being an easy-to-use feature, you can play around with this functionality within DynaRent. Being a highly controllable feature, you can enable or disable it as needed and change the configurations without limits on the frequency.

Over a period, with newer data entering your system, you can continuously train data sets and produce more associations for different products. Additionally, you can have region-specific control of the feature and set up legal entities separately.

How does the Product Recommendation Engine functionality work?

Product Recommendation Engine is based on the concept of 'market basket analysis' or 'affinity analysis,' with which you can mine data to create a combination of frequently rented or purchased products in the same transaction.

The functionality uses transactional data to analyze and learn your customers' purchasing patterns and renting behavior to create association rules. These association rules lead to insightful product recommendations when a user is trying to rent or buy an item.

It considers the order number and items of each customer's rental order, which you import, and trains the item recommendation model with the specified data. You can upload this data into the system, train the model, and use it to set up product recommendations.

The functionality is highly beneficial for businesses renting or selling multiple items, and you can keep track of a large volume of data.

Some of the ways you can use it are:

  • Get insights into frequently bought/rented-together products and set up item recommendations accordingly.
  • Understand supplementary rental items that you can set up based on relevant associations between two or more products (to be made available in upcoming releases).

How can you set up this functionality?

As mentioned earlier, it is an easy-to-use feature with minimal user configuration.

You must meet the following prerequisites to begin using the Product Recommendation Engine:

  • An Azure account with an active Azure subscription as the functionality uses an Azure Function App as the backend.
  • A Dynamics 365 for Finance and Supply Chain Management environment that has DynaRent version or higher installed, as it is functionality built into our DynaRent solution.

You can then set up resources in Azure, fill in parameters in DynaRent, and begin training your model with the desired data.

Here is a quick overview of how you can set up the functionality:

i. Setting up item recommendation parameters

After enabling the functionality, you can set up the item recommendation parameters.

A screenshot of DynaRent showing the 'item recommendations parameters’ under 'Rental parameters.' (Click on the image for a full-screen view)

Setting up item recommendations with necessary parameters

 ii. Item recommendations tab on the rental order

You can click the ‘Item recommendations’ button to see the recommended items for the particular rental order.

A screenshot of DynaRent showing the ‘item recommendations’ option on the rental order line.

Item recommendations tab in a rental order

iii. Viewing item recommendations

You can select the recommended item(s) and automatically add them to the rental order. You can add supplementary rental items through the 'rental line editor.'

A DynaRent screenshot showing the 'item recommendations' for a particular rental order.

Viewing item recommendations for a rental order

What’s next for you?

With industry experts passionate about innovation, we can empower your equipment rental or manufacturing business to sell better, smarter, and more efficiently. If you are interested in exploring more about the DynaRent solution in which the Product Recommendation Engine functionality is built, you can download the solution factsheet.

To get more information on this innovation, our solutions, or how you can enhance your rental business, feel free to get in touch with our experts.

Ready to explore more about this innovation and how it can help your rental business?

Sumana Samuk
Sumana Samuk,
Sumana Samuk,
Product Management Team Lead

Also interesting