Apache OFBiz and Omnichannel Operational Challenges

In this post we are going to look at the operational challenges of omnichannel commerce in OFBiz.


Simply taking your store or merchandise online is no longer enough to successfully compete online, consumer convenience no matter where they are has become paramount.  When a retailer decides to provide more convenient shopping and fulfillment options to customers, a simple ecommce store can quickly become omnichannel.

After studying a white paper from FitforCommerce (Uncovering the Real Omnichannel Operational Challenges and keys to Success). I decided to look at Apache OFBiz and compare its capabilities with the feature recommendations outlined in the white paper. Here is what I found.

With the evolution of online shopping, today’s shopper expects more from your online store than they have in the past. As a retailer you have to offer support for multiple channels in your system to give customers a good expereince no matter how they purchase your products.  This passage from the white paper sums it up very well:

“It was not that long ago that retail was synonymous with brick-and-mortar. Then came direct-to-consumer catalog sales and call centers, online retail, followed by mobile and social and even in-store digital initiatives. These new sales and marketing channels have added additional layers of customer interaction and purchasing options, but have also created operational complexities. What was once a single channel has become omnichannel and retailers have been forced to deploy strategies with deeper integration between customer touch points.”

Today’s consumer is more educated about the various shopping and fulfillment options available to them. So the customer not only demands a broad product range with competitive prices, the customer also demands a larger feature set from your system as well.

If you are solely focused on building a fancy eCommerce store to sell your products, then you will fall short, it’s not just about front-end anymore.

Apache OFBiz and The Key Requirements For a Good Omnichannel System

As per this white paper, retailers have to focus on the following capabilities that ecommerce ERP systems must have:

1. Consistent branding and messaging across all customer touch points

– Apache OFBiz comes with centralized Product Catalog Management and a robust Content Management System.

2. Distributed order management including fulfillment from multiple locations (warehouses, stores, order online/ pickup in store, etc.)

– Apache OFBiz comes with a centralized back-end Order Management Application to easily manage fulfillment across multiple locations.

3. A 360 degree view of customer data available to all channels, including  customer history

– Apache OFBiz offers a central Party/Customer Management Application.

4. Inventory visibility and manageability across all channels

– Apache OFBiz comes with a central Facility/Warehouse Management Application to easily manage inventory across all channels.

5. Reverse logistics (return to store, distribution center, etc.)

– Apache OFBiz supports returns and exchanges through the back-end Order Management Application.

6. Promotional consistency across all channels

– Apache OFBiz offers a powerful promotion engine within the  Product/Catalog Manager.

7. Flexibility to establish consistency across multiple channels using business rules

– Apache OFBiz comes with a powerful back-end Product/Catalog/Product Store/Promotion/Price Management Application.

8. Cross-channel marketing to drive overall customer contact and revenue generation

– Apache OFBiz centrally manages all of your customer data so the same data is always available across all channels.

Based on these requirements, we can conclude that a system needs to have a number of integrated back-end applications (Centralized Order/Customer/Warehouse/Inventory/Content Management) to give a  retailer a true Omnichannel system capable of supporting their business and their customers. Apache OFBiz is a full featured ecommerce and ERP platform with built in support for these centralized back-end features, which can be further customized to the specific needs of retailers.

Based on the survey results relating to system capabilities provided in this white paper, Apache OFBiz is a good open source ecommerce and ERP solution to the challenges a retailer may face while operating with multiple channels.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post.

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DATE: Jul 29, 2014
AUTHOR: Pranay Pandey
OFBiz Tutorials, OFBiz Ecommerce, Apache OFBiz, ofbiz omnichannel, Enterprise ERP, OFBiz, Order Management, Apache Open for Business