As Omnichannel Grows, Retailers' Needs Multiply
The marriage of in-store shopping, online ordering and mobile commerce is happening just as fast for retailers as it is for consumers.
But for retailers, it's not just about convenience. Stores must procure, ship and and transact faster to have a ready supply of goods for mobile and digital orders. While consumers don't see these stresses on retailers, they're just as important a part of the payment experience as single-click transactions or faster processing, argues Haitham Ghadiry, vice president of sales and marketing at HighJump Software.
HighJump has built an integration between its TrueCommerce subsidiary and an updated Microsoft cloud to manage supply chain scale. "In the omnichannel environment, retailers have pressure to ship to consumers and expedite fulfillment," Ghadiry said.
The integrated system is in use with two clients, but HighJump would not identify them.
This demand for speed makes it harder for stores to order and pay for goods, and match volumes to consumer demand. The cloud-delivered integration helps supply chain partners collaborate faster and with less reliance on complex technology and connectivity projects.
"If you're not easily integrated and can't fill an order, you may miss a shopping window to another e-commerce retailer," Ghadiry said.
TrueCommerce has developed a hosted electronic data interchange integration with Microsoft Dynamics AX, an enterprise resource planning product, using the cloud as an alternative to on-premise deployments.
The combination of systems is a scale management play, connecting warehouse management, transportation, business to business payments processing and inventory management without local software installation and technology management. The integration automates forms such as invoices—so a large retailer that's ordering 10,000 units of a specific product can manage the order, invoice, payment and shipping without manual entry into several different forms, Ghadiry said.
Ghadiry argues that allows information to flow faster to accommodate faster spikes in supply requirements from digital shopping and payments on the consumer end.
"The retailers can consolidate e-commerce orders and EDI through one network and one interaction between technology systems at the retailer and supplier," he said.
Similar to many other mobile-driven retail technology strategies, TrueCommerce is relying on an existing network to use and boost the new cloud-driven system. TrueCommerce's Global Commerce Network includes 10,000 retailers, distributors and logistics service providers that were already working together in the "pre mobile payments" world to manage supply chain scale.
Businesses have traditionally been slower than consumers to embrace new automation for payments or other functions, and Microsoft's move of AX to the cloud in its latest version, which was released about a year ago, had slow uptake initially, Ghadiry said, though the pace of upgrade is picking up.
"Market reception was initially hesitant," Ghadiry said, adding many businesses did not rewrite their integration with Microsoft right away, waiting to see how other parties' use of the Microsoft cloud evolved. "We are talking to a lot of customers about the future of the integration and are hoping that in about a year or so they will all move to the [new AX]."
Other companies are also targeting retailer supply chains with time-saving and inventory right sizing technology. Fluent has attracted investors to its solution, which uses blockchain technology to streamline supply chain ordering and payments. Everledger also uses blockchain to track supply chain shipments and manage fraud.
"Many retailers struggle with connecting their online/mobile channels to their physical channels, or stores, and recognizing customers when they walk in-store to return or exchange items," said Michael Moeser, director of payments for Javelin Strategy & Research. "If you are talking about capturing PC and smartphone purchases and tying them directly to cloud-based ordering systems used by retailers, I should think that would be a great opportunity since many times stores still rely on the physical inventory systems run by the cash register and have to force digital orders into this system for inventory management."