What is an omnichannel architecture?
An omnichannel architecture comprises of all necessary IT systems, to ensure the organization can function as an omnichannel company.
The coming years, the ways in which consumers use omnichannel environments will continue to change. For most retailers there are several channels that are available for consumers: a desktop website, the physical shop (for picking-up en returning packages), and increasingly mobile channels for tablets and phones. In the near future, extra channels will continue to serve more possibilities for consumers, pushed by continuous technological advancements. These channels are enabled by a solid omnichannel architecture.
An omnichannel architecture should allow you to serve customers in a personal and relevant manner, in a multitude of channels, whereby technology is used as efficient as possible. These channels all use applications (pricing & promotions, stock, CRM, etc.), that are in constant communication with each other. By providing all information realtime and from a single source of truth, a seamless experience is created over all channels.
An example can be given of a potential customer journey, that shows which architectural elements are necessary to allow for this omnichannel customer journey:
A consumer sees a bar stool in a store, but it turns out the correct height is not currently in stock there. A store employee orders the bar stool on his tablet, after which the consumer pays for the order with mobile payment. The order is then allocated to a different store, where the item is in stock, and where on the basis of door count data it seems to be relatively quiet. This store confirms the order, prints out the correct shipping label, and sends the item directly to the involved consumer.
In the above example, the customer journey touches at least the following architectural modules:
- In store tablets
- Door counters
- CRM/360° profiling
- Distributed order management
- Stock management
- Track & trace
In general, while designing an omnichannel architecture, the following elements should be kept central:
- Pricing and promotions