Need for an omnichannel protocol

One of the essential requirements of Omnichannel  implementation is disparate systems talking the same functional language, especially the order capturing channels ( Ecommerce website, mobile, call centre , in store) and order management systems.

Imagine this scenario. Your ecommerce system is on a Ecommere platform (Such as Hybris, Demandware, ATG)  and your OMS is on a separate platform (IBM Sterling, OrderDynamics etc) . How will the promotions defined in Ecommerce platform  get replicated into OMS platform. Well,  promotions applied for each order  on the Ecommerce platform  do normally flow in OMS through Order information, but  it is very difficult to synchronise the promotion definitions. If call centre user have to edit the order in OMS, it is very difficult for them to know the promotions that can be applied to that order, unless the promotion definitions are synchronised across all Omnichannel systems.

One way to do so, is to manually create promotions in all channels (including OMS). But  this approach has obvious limitations owing to manual aspect

The above issue is not only true for promotions but other merchandizing features such as shipping methods, taxation settings etc. Every system involved has its’ own way of defining these merchandizing features. In the above example Promotions defined in Ecommerce platform  cannot be recreated easily in an OMS platform owned by a different company (just to reiterate , we are talking about the definitions of the features such as promotions and not the promotions that are applied to an order) .

This mismatch in the way the systems define merchandizing features not only limits Omnichannel from really being Omnichannel but for those retailers who actually want to implement a true Omnichannel system, overcoming this limitation is time consuming and expensive.

This issue can be overcome if the industry that enables the Omnichannel implementations  comes together ( I.e. The product vendors and system integrators ) and agree on a common Omnichannel  protocol across the product range.

For common merchandizing features  , common XML structure can be agreed and maintained on community website : let’s call it  omnichannel.org. For the SiteMaps of websites   Google, Bing and Yahoo  have come together and established the common XML specifications for Sitemaps and these are maintained on www.sitemaps.org .  What I am essentially saying is the replication of that model for Omnichannel world.
An examples is given below. (of course this example is to give the readers an idea of the approach. In reality the XMLs will need to be a lot more elaborate and need to cater to many different scenarios)

OmniChannelPromotionDefinition.xml

2014-10-30_16h14_51

So will the Hybris, IBM, Oracle, OrderDynamics of the Omnichannel world come together and create a common omnichannel protocol on the same lines like sitemaps.org ?

Author – Sanjeev Desai

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