Operational and data flows: the omnichannel solution in the Internet era.
In earlier times, companies typically worked with a two-channel distribution: a wholesale channel and a retail channel. They did not focus, as it is central today, on customer preferences and their convenience. Marketing using databases about their consumers, demographic information from censuses, and even psychographic data, was just beginning to appear. What are now called cookies were once codes that identified customers. Just as cookies have their parallel in codes, the multichannel strategy consisted of selling through telephone numbers, and even through faxes.
This whole system began to change once the Internet appeared. With this medium, the ecosystem and the points of contact with customers expanded rapidly. Companies, eager to use these new channels provided by the Internet, started selling on platforms such as Wish, AliExpress, eBay, Amazon, and on their own websites as well. The latter method was the first that brands and OEMs adopted in their transition to a multichannel system. They followed up using eBay and Amazon with systems such as FBM (the merchant handles the logistics), and 3PL (outsourced logistics services), and lastly on sites like Walmart.com and Target.com.
Some companies even took the risk of selling their products internationally, with platforms such as Alibaba, Mercado Libre and Rakuten. Retail stores such as Macy's adopted, for the first time in the industry, a system in which the purchase was online, and shipping was from the store. Another pioneer was Target, with the BORIS system of online purchase and in-store return.
The expansion of the multichannel strategy
Especially with the COVID-19 pandemic, the need to adapt to the convenience of clients grew, offering them last-mile delivery options, such as buy online and pick up in store, buy online and pick up on the go, and reserve online and pick up in store (BOPIS, BOPAC and ROPIS respectively). Another growing trend is the so-called micro-fulfillment centers, logistics micro-platforms, which use an automatic storage system and are located near cities to speed up the delivery of online orders.
This led to companies accumulating several different systems and outlets, including direct-to-consumer, but it also led to a problem: How could they integrate or communicate all these systems and platforms into a single network, into a single version?
Companies previously had an entrenched system where business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) channels were differentiated and operated independently. Integrating and intertwining them to communicate with each other was a costly task, which most likely provided no return on the investment needed to accomplish it. And this today has not changed that much, as companies often operate on different channels for online, wholesale, and in-store retail. Integrating these systems efficiently requires an omnichannel solution.
For example, OMNIX is a SaaS platform that offers such a solution, guaranteeing operational continuity by precisely integrating all processes and automating them on a single platform. With this system, OMNIX has enabled its customers to achieve a 20% increase in operational efficiency.
The importance of traceability
To ensure that the goal of customer satisfaction is met, an integration that allows the entire process to be traced from start to finish (E2E) is essential. A system that safeguards each point in the process is needed, so that the product reaches the consumer's hands in a timely manner. And this traceability must also integrate the after-sales process.
The omnichannel solution works by encompassing all the different touch points, which are dynamic and growing in turn, tracing them in their entirety, from planning and sourcing, to order execution and delivery to the customer. When the process architecture is fragmented into different parts, visibility into the operation is reduced. A core, a brain, is needed to ensure that the body, the operation, acts holistically and efficiently through a nervous system. In addition, the trend towards a circular and sustainable economic system strengthens the need for this traceability, in order to follow the life cycle of the product, and thus be able to reuse it, recycle it, resell it, etcetera.
The OMNIX platform provides this necessary global view, so that, for example, when there is a gap between inventory, demand and distribution, it can react by managing the global inventory. It acts by automating decisions when identifying failures and breakdowns in each process of the chain, so that it reacts to unforeseen events, and thus meets deliveries.
The steep rise of ecommerce thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, and forecasts of an equally steep increase in outsourced logistics services are driving a need for speed in processes that only a singular platform can solve. For example, OMNIX's platform integrates all the disparate layers of the process, making it easy for the ecosystem to function as needed, and it does so quickly because it works in real time.
Key points for the omnichannel strategy
First, an omnichannel platform must be able to drill down and distribute orders to the areas it is responsible for, regardless of which sales channel they come from. It has to be able to do this quickly and without much effort. Second, inventory allocation must be optimal. For example, if supply is restricted, the system should be able to allocate and reserve it by customer or by channel to ensure that the service is balanced. Inventory should be allocated respecting the requirements of different types of customers. Third, the planning of activities must be such that the parts are properly notified. Based on delivery schedules, the system needs to plan the activities of warehouses and transportation service providers and be notified accordingly. In pick-up and drop-off situations, those locations where this will occur must be notified, as well as customers according to their order updates. The preparation and execution of the process must be properly supervised. The service offered by OMNIX, for example, plans the entire operation based on systemic capabilities.
This is why huge companies such as Wom, Claro and Telefónica choose a platform like OMNIX to automate, plan and integrate their processes. OMNIX has 180 million transactions that have been successfully resolved and makes approximately 700,000 decisions per day. Platforms like these ensure that companies have value chains that work by tracing each order, each process in an automatic way and therefore, work more efficiently.