About cross-channel sales (and a little about their implementation based on IBM WebSphere Commerce)

Although smart Amazon guys are already preparing Prima Air drones for delivering our purchases from electronic stores, it’s obvious that traditional (physical) stores are not going to retire yet. On the contrary, the integration and interweaving of the digital and physical components of shopping creates new opportunities for sales and marketing.

Today we are reflecting on the topic of cross-channel trading, and, in particular, on resolving this issue based on IBM WebSphere Commerce.

First, let's define the terminology. Usually cross-channel is confused with multi-channel. Multichannel- this is when you have the actual store, a call center, perhaps time in the TV shop, social media platforms and other tools and sales channels through which you sell your products or services. Multichannel is important and necessary, as it provides the seller with more opportunities to meet with the buyer in different places and situations.

Imagine a situation: a potential buyer called one of your call centers, but for some reason did not make a purchase. From the conversation it is clear that a person, in principle, has an interest in your product, and it would be good to turn a potential customer into an accomplished one by offering him the opportunity to purchase the same product, say in an e-mail, supplemented by a personal discount in the online store. This is the cross-channel approach.to sales. Cross-channelity brings interaction between channels into multi-channel, integrates them to increase sales, while improving and perfecting customer experience (user experience).

All this can be done manually if the customers are not as many as Carleone’s, but what if there are hundreds of thousands of them, and all of them need to make offers, comparing their shopping desires with their capabilities? In addition, you need to act quickly, until the potential buyer has not lost interest in the product, switching to something else.

CRM (Customer Relationship Management) middleware- a specific type of CRM solution that provides the integration of all information coming from customers or potential buyers with a computer or smartphone into a single system for subsequent analysis and preparation of proposals for each specific user. A good system should qualitatively process and convert incoming information into a single format, transfer them to the back-end, taking into account logistics, supply, etc. in each case. In fact, such a system is the brain of a cross-channel approach to sales:

The main difficulty in implementing cross-channel sales is the automation of receipt and management of orders and stocks, that is, the combination of supply and demand, as the great Alfred Marshall bequeathed, only taking into account the situation and consumer behavior in each individual case. This complexity stems primarily from the amount of information: the system needs to process a lot of data and draw the right conclusions. Ideally, the individual characteristics of the client, all the pros and cons of each sales channel, the potential and availability of the goods, the ability to complete the order on time, as well as ensuring a holistic user experience, are taken into account.

IBM WebSphere Commerce Cross Channel Solution

Today there are a lot of CRM middleware solutions - both from monsters of CRM solutions (Oracle, SAP, Sales Force and others), and from relatively small vendors. We will focus on IBM WebSphere Commerce as one of the largest and most functional solutions on the market today. IBM WebSphere Commerce is a powerful CRM middleware solution, the basis for creating a reliable automated cross-channel process, also equipped with cross-channel marketing options with a business process manager (BPM), business intelligence (BI) and other advanced features that can lead to the delight of any marketer.
Of course, we will not talk about all the features of the system now, but we will try to shed light on the most important in IBM WebSphere Commerce - DOM, distributed order management.

Distributed Order Management (DOM) Distributed Order Management (DOM)

Optimized order management serves as the basic cross-platform technology in cross-channel sales, is its brain, allowing you to combine supply and demand, structuring all inventories and flexibly managing supply. At IBM WebSphere Commerce, this function is performed by the DOM, which effectively manages the entire supply chain and develops the ability of the business to respond to the requests of existing and potential customers, processing them and anticipating the behavior of potential customers, with the possibility of creating a personalized offer.

As a rule, the seller already has an established order management system. When implementing a cross-channel solution, integration with all points of sales and communication with the client, transformation of all incoming messages into a single format for processing by the system is important. During the life cycle, the seller can connect new channels, but the same contractor does not always implement the new functionality. As a result, several unrelated systems output data in different formats, which, of course, gives rise to concomitant difficulties and confusion. Integrating data into a single stream is a key task at the stage of technical implementation of a cross-channel sales system on any platform.

Here is a schematic example of a DOM and IBM WebSphere Commerce integration option for a typical e-commerce store:

* In-store CSR (Customer Service Representative)

Recently, the Wal-Mart network revealed the size of investments in its global technical platform - $ 430 million. Most of these funds were spent specifically on the implementation of the DOM.

Flexibility and load resistance

Over time, sales channels can change significantly in weight. So, traditional trips to ordinary shops, and, consequently, sales in them, may fall. This, however, does not threaten mobile sales in general. This year they expectedly reached a new maximum, acquiring 17.2% of total online sales, which is 42.9% more than in 2013. This means that the number and variety of access devices is increasing (old + new versions of all types) mobile devices + various software), which naturally increases the load on the system, and this trend will grow in the future.

With the growing number of facilities and access capabilities, both terrestrial and mobile traffic are growing, and here is another important advantage of IBM WSC - load resistance. On this platform, we made a website for the Sears network (average annual turnover of $ 1 billion). Even if the retailer is far from Sears volumes, a holiday can also happen on its street, for example, in the form of New Year's shopping madness. At such a crucial moment, it turns out how correctly the CRM-middleware platform was chosen.

Not only the number and variety of communication channels with the consumer is expanding, but the order cycle itself is changing. For example, the introduction of the option “delivery from the nearest store” can potentially increase sales by 20%. According to eBay Enterprise, a seller with a 50 millionth turnover who does not offer this type of delivery loses up to $ 27,000 a day! Macy's in their report said that over the three years of delivery from the nearest store, they earned an extra billion dollars.

Instead of an epilogue

Choosing the right CRM-middleware solution can significantly increase conversion, providing the seller with valuable information on how to better use existing resources, providing the buyer with new opportunities and benefits. The data flow is constantly increasing, and the online shopper who selects and buys from different devices plays a significant role in this process. We believe that functional retail data processing systems will be increasingly in demand in one form or another - both by large companies and local sellers who are aware of the benefits of multi-channel sales.

Also popular now: