Written by Vitor Sousa*
If there was still any doubt about the need for retailers to embark on the journey of digital transformation and join e-commerce, the pandemic ended any hesitation. Commerce by digital means changed levels: people were forced to digitize their consumption habits and companies had to move quickly to survive.
So what does the digital transformation journey mean? Well, you make your products and services available to your customers simply, quickly and directly through the channel that is most convenient for them – whether it’s through a website, an app, a chatbot or even through the physical store itself.
Offering a wide variety of places to buy is essential to establish an omnichannel strategy, where your company has multiple channels that communicate and complement each other. However, this is a challenge for many retailers.
The biggest difficulty is that the core data – data contained in the systems where the main processes of the companies run – have to be unlocked. Companies need to restore these accesses simply and cheaply. But what if your systems are not prepared for this scenario, is the digital journey unfeasible? No.
How to connect the core data?
For the integration of different technologies to be possible and allow data to travel between core and support systems, whether new or legacy, it’s necessary to add a digital layer, which will function as a “Benjamin” and connect all the technologies. It is what Gartner calls the Hybrid Integration Platform, or HIP, a revolution in systems integration processes.
As Gartner describes it, “the HIP is the “home” for all functionalities that ensure the smooth integration of multiple digital transformation initiatives in an organization.” For retailers to make the digital transformation to an omnichannel business, it’s paramount to convert their systems with the most efficiency and effectiveness. Using a HIP can help with the following:
Integrated Order Management
With a HIP, you can connect and equalize the order module to all channels, allowing an integrated view of orders and requests in a system known as OMS (Order Management System), regardless of where the purchase originated from. And the systems themselves – whether they’re ERPs, POS, a CRM or an existing e-commerce platform – can “become WHO” without the need for new investments.
100% connected inventories
The digital layer drives digital transformation by helping manage inventory control, another sensitive issue for retailers. In this scenario of multiple channels, having inventories 100 percent integrated is an indispensable condition for the success of the operation, avoiding problems with early billing of orders, missing products and errors in delivery.
With the HIP integration, the entire operational flow can be automated, from the generation of the order in the various channels to the monitoring of delivery at the consumer’s home. Automations prevent operational errors and omissions, such as charging items that have not been sent to customers. In this scenario, the payment transaction is only completed when the product is already properly separated for the customer who placed the order. Thus, it is charged for what is actually being delivered, avoiding other operational processes.
Physical store as a distribution center
The global view allows you to take advantage of physical stores and make them distribution centers. The most common solution today – the creation of a centralized and exclusive stock for virtual operation – may work well for retail giants, but it is a problematic solution for smaller retailers. By connecting its stock to this centralized system, the retailer gains full capacity to have its own online operation, with high levels of automation, reducing operating costs and taking advantage of existing interfaces and systems. For all these reasons, it is a viable strategy financially and operationally, with productivity gains resulting from the data being quickly connected to the most diverse systems.
Time to market improvement
As legacy systems are no longer an impediment to the digital journey and the omnichannel approach becomes a reality, delivery times are more agile and competition with new, digital and flexible players is less problematic.
A World of opportunities
After the first gains from this operation, a world of opportunities opens, enabling companies to adopt modern interaction practices, such as context markets, loyalty programs, online offers, coupons, and joint campaigns with manufacturers, among many others. It frees up financial and human resources so that your business can focus is what really matters: the end customer. But that makes for another article.
* Vitor Sousa is founding partner and COO of Digibee
To learn more about Digibee hybrid integration platform and how it can digitally transform your retail business, check out our solutions page, and feel free to contact us or schedule a demo today