Some of today’s major retailers are making major strategic bets that Omnichannel is a steadily growing trend that is here to stay. Early on, they have engaged in an important learning curve that gives them a competitive edge. For instance, according to Retail Information System News, Macy’s began its Omnichannel journey in 2009. By 2012, Macy’s saw 42% quarterly growth in online sales by delivering goods to customers when and how they wanted them. Next, according to a 2015 Multichannel Merchant article, Macy’s has continued its digital retail investments by hiring 150 people for its digital technology organization, supporting the growing Omnichannel business. Given that Omnichannel is continually evolving, early adopters – like Macy’s– are gaining a leg up on the competition by securing critical insights into digital consumer needs. They are also learning how to overcome key barriers in delivering unmatched digital brand experience. Other retailers, slower to adopt, are making minor Omnichannel bets such as mobile application deployment or are still in a “wait and see mode” may continue to slowly fall behind the digital transformation curve. Perhaps the winners of the Omnichannel race will be determined by the retailers who have developed the early knowledge and leveraged the best tools to overcome barriers, delivering an unmatched Omnichannel brand experience tailored to their customer’s evolving purchasing demands. For retailers making minor bets or for those just getting started down the Omnichannel path, a sense of urgency has now arrived. Perhaps, after learning from social media recommendations, some of their customers are viewing the competitor’s digital showrooms and are enticed to make a purchase with the expectation of having a better brand experience. These retailers need to gain insights about their customers, namely that they take both a ‘predictable and unpredictable Omnichannel purchasing journey. They will also likely uncover the channeling barriers that may be blocking their ability to make the Omnichannel journey fast, seamless and competitively delightful. A study by MasterCard (The Omnishopper Project, 2015) determined that ”8 out of 10 consumers globally used a computer, smartphone, tablet or in-store technology while shopping.” For those retailers planning or revising their Omnichannel strategy, the ‘digital’ consumer shopping methods are the predictable part. In other words, no matter if your customer is at home or in a brick-and-mortar store, they will use digital technology to discover and research product information. The business challenge is attracting these digital consumers to your digital showroom via a mobile commerce platform. The technical barrier here is ensuring that the mobile platform is well-integrated to backend fulfillment systems, so that consumers receive the rich amounts of detailed –real time–product information (e.g. pricing, description, availability, peer recommendations, etc.) with the ability (naturally) to place orders. Next, after a well-integrated mobile platform is in place, a retailer faces a key unpredictable variable: how to meet the digital consumer’s fulfillment requirements. These requirements are tough, as they can include the following fulfillment methods normally requested as “next day delivery”:
- Order online/deliver to customer
- Order online/ pick up at store
- Order online/ deliver from store
- Select / pay online / pickup at store
- Also change delivery method at any time before or during shipment
In light of these non-traditional fulfillment requirements, retailers and their supporting supply chain partners must then overcome every fulfilment business challenge that slows or prevents timely product shipments to waiting Omnichannel consumers. The challenges can be overwhelming, including but not limited to:
- Moving from batch waves of releasing orders to faster ‘drop in’ of new individual orders
- Knowing location of all inventory across multiple stock-keeping sites
- Shipping between stores to fulfill orders when local stores are out of stock
- Efficient last-mile delivery with tracking
The technical barrier to overcoming these challenges is to seamlessly connect a diverse set of fulfillment systems that include: Ordering, Inventory, Transportation, Warehouse Management and Enterprise Resource Planning. By effectively and efficiently connecting these systems, next day delivery is possible no matter which delivery method is requested. To many retailers, these barriers appear daunting, so requirements must be defined in order to create a solution framework tailored for both customer needs and the retailer’s environment. What follows are some potential requirements that should assist retailers in delivering Omnichannel integration projects that addresses both predictable and unpredictable aspects of their consumer’s journey:
- A single integration platform that seamlessly connects both fulfillment and demand processes (e.g. mobile platforms) to reduce infrastructure complexities, staffing and project costs
- A single integration platform that can be utilized by both traditional B2B/EDI supply chain teams and innovative mobile (e.g. REST/JSON) platform teams to ensure standardization, simplification and staff productivity
- A ‘no coding needed’ Integration platform to reduce integration costs and to quickly deliver integration projects to the market faster utilizing existing staff
- A single ‘no coding needed’ rules-based workflow engine for faster business process changes that speeds businesses’ operating tempo to meet the lightning speed of the digital economy
- A single integration platform to provide centralized visibility of all processes for faster response and resolution of exceptions
- A multipurpose integration platform that delivers B2B, API, and MFT to ensure a future-proof investment as integration projects scopes expand
While some alternatives exist to fulfill these requirements, SEEBURGER’s Business Integration Suite (BIS) is a Comprehensive Hybrid Integration platform that meets all of the requirements above. It is the only single, home-grown, multi-purpose integration platform in the market- there are no third-party bolt-ons embedded in the software resulting from acquisitions. Now your retail company can quickly accelerate the delivery of an unmatched Omnichannel customer experience. BIS is uniquely designed to quickly connect –without programming–your entire backend supply chain, cloud processes, various enterprise integration patterns–including MFT–with your frontend digital Omnichannel processes. It will transform slow legacy backend system liabilities, such as disconnected platforms, into modern, connected Omnichannel assets that move at lightning speed. In essence, BIS quickly and cost-effectively closes your ecosystem information gaps by transforming your isolated back and frontend systems into a single agile infrastructure that moves at the speed of your Omnichannel markets. SEEBURGER has thirty years of vast experience and expertise pioneering global integration frontiers, bringing the best German-engineered integration products and best practices needed to make you successful in the Omnichannel retail world. Contact us at 678-638-4894 or our website at www.seeburger.com and see our Hot Topic card “Omnichannel- Powering Your Digital Business Connections” video at http://www.seeburger.com/en/article/omni-channel-powering-your-digital-business-connections.html Next month’s Blog “People, Processes, and Data…Oh My…Successfully Walking Down the Yellow Brick Road of Omnichannel Integration.
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