Apache OFBiz and Omnichannel Order Complexities

In my last post we evaluated Apache OFBiz for Omnichannel Challenges.  In this post we will take a closer look at the back-end order management capabilities of Apache OFBiz. Specifically, how it can better manage processes if  you are offering Omnichannel capabilities to your customers.

The primary reference used for this analysis is a white paper from FitforCommerce available here: Surviving Omnichannel Order Complexities: Why the Order Management System is Critical in Today’s Retail Environment

Lets start by looking at the ability of Apache OFBiz to survive in an Omnichannel retail environment.

Omnichannel Order Complexities

As Omnichannel capabilities are offered to your customers, their expectations grow. You have to have a good Order Management System working on the back-end to fulfill the expectations of today’s customer. We need to consider this fact:

85% of consumers expect a seamless experience across all channels. — Source: NRF 2014 – Smarter Commerce Name-Dropper Statistics

Here is a quick overview of some of the case studies given in the FitforCommerce whitepaper and compare them against Apache OFBiz’s capabilities:

a. Order Online/Pick Up In-Store/Return In-Store:  A customer orders product online for pickup in the local store; however, when she arrives, the product is not ready for her. She decides to add a few items to her purchase but the sales associate does not have access to her online order and must start a completely new transaction, adding time and frustration for the customer.

The customer returns an item ordered online at the local store but the sales associate has no way to access or verify the original online order. The only way for the customer to return the item is to mail it back to the eCommerce distribution center.

– Apache OFBiz solves this by having a centralized Order Manager application. This application can be accessed from any location to get the order details for the customer.

b. Channel-Specific Promotions: A customer researches a product online and calls customer service for additional information. He decides to place the order while on the phone with the call center rep. However, the customer service system is not integrated with the eCommerce platform; therefore, the rep does not have access to the same promotional information offered online and cannot honor the same discount. The customer is forced to place the order online himself to get the promotional discount, adding time and frustration to the buying process.

– Apache OFBiz utilizes centralized product management withing the Catalog Management application. This common store can be used for your customer facing site as well as by CSRs to place orders on behalf of the customer eliminating conflicting information.

c. Shop in Store/Order Online: A customer sees an ad for a product on sale and goes to the local store to buy the item but it is is out of stock. The sales clerk wants to order it online for the customer, but the point-of-sales system is not integrated with the retailer’s direct-to-consumer order solution. Therefore, the clerk cannot place an order to ship directly to the customer’s home. The frustrated customer visits a competing retailer, who offers price matching, and gets the product at the same discounted price.

– Apache OFBiz gives you access to centralized inventory data, which makes handling this case easy.

d. Shop Online/Out of Stock: A customer shops online but the desired product is listed as sold out. Other stores and distribution centers have the item in stock but the ecommerce platform is not  integrated with other the inventory systems. Therefore, the retailer cannot offer the product or fulfill the order from other locations. The customer buys the product from a competing retailer’s site and the original retailer loses a sale.

– Apache OFBiz supports a multiple inventory location (warehouse) environment. It allows fulfillment of orders from different warehouses.

At this stage you will probably agree that it is not only about having a fancy storefront/front-end application for your customers. As per the whitepaper:

While the front-end applications facilitate the website customer interaction, the most important capabilities of the Omnichannel approach are driven by the back-end.

Having a solid foundation on the back-end assures quality service to your customers in an Omnichannel environment.

Essential OMS Capabilities and Apache OFBiz

According to FitforCommerce, these are the essential Order Management System capabilities for Omnichannel:

1. Multichannel order capture and processing

– Apache OFBiz gives you the ability to capture and process orders from multiple channels – including an order that may start in one channel and complete in another. It’s all possible because of the integrated environment where all the applications access centralized data.

2. Inventory visibility

– The Apache OFBiz Order Management Application is integrated with its Warehouse/Facility/Inventory Management application which gives you better control and access to information.

3. Cross-channel order routing

– Apache OFBiz gives you the ability to route orders for fulfillment to various inventory distribution locations based on business rules and algorithms.

4. Order online/pick-up in store

– Apache OFBiz applications work in an integrated environment and hence give you the freedom to support such demands from customers.

5. 360-degree customer view

– Apache OFBiz offers a central Party/Customer Management Application. It centrally manages all of your customer data so the same data is available across all channels.

6. Promotions, product content information, and pricing

– Apache OFBiz comes with a powerful back-end Product/Catalog/Product Store/Promotion/Price/Content Management Application to centrally manage all of this information.

7. Returns and reverse logistics

– Apache OFBiz manages returns and reverse logistics efficiently using a centralized Order Manager Application.

8. Delivery and service scheduling

– Apache OFBiz with some customization and configuration enables you to provide support for delivery and service scheduling.

9. Predictive processing/analytics

– Apache OFBiz with some customization and configuration allows you complete visibility into your inventory and is capable of  to predicting when disruptions in supply will impact promised delivery dates.

Apache OFBiz is an Open Source ERP suite which is easy to use and customize to the needs of the business. Apache OFBiz enables you to quickly address custom requirements. It not only offers you the framework for rapid application development, but also comes with a basic framework of business applications. It works on the concept that 80% of the business process are already there and that the last 20% are specific to that company or industry. That is whymost of the requirements of an Omnichannel setup are already supported.

To learn more about Apache OFBiz for your Omnichannel setup Contact Us.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post.

DATE: Aug 12, 2014
AUTHOR: Pranay Pandey
OFBiz Tutorials, OFBiz Ecommerce, OFBiz, Order Management