19 March 2014
Faced with a mishmash of legacy systems, best-of-breed components and some clever niche applications, how can today's omnichannel retailers ensure that technology copes with channel-hopping shoppers?
They are familiar problems. That nice little standalone system that helped launch the website, manages orders and fulfilment, and keeps track of online inventory may be stitched together with the main inventory files but perhaps it can’t really talk to the new tills. These tills can access the Internet, but might struggle to link real-time to the product files on an ageing head-office server. then there is that Shiny new mobile app which somehow doesn’t seem to work in most branches – maybe lack of wi-fi bandwidth is to blame?
The list goes on. Successfully integrating a mixture of IT components acquired over the course of a decade or two to provide for seamless omnichannel transactions is not exactly straightforward, especially when diagrams showing the IT architecture start to look like spaghetti.
“Systems are interfaced rather than integrated, with middleware often playing a big part.” says Jas Virdee, a partner at Kurt Salmon and head of its UK multichannel practice. “Even where the big IT vendors have bought ecommerce companies – such as SAP with Hybris or Oracle and ATG- you don’t get full integration. The technology providers are not going to make the sort of investment needed for that unless it’s on the back of some major retailer who wants it and is prepared to share the cost.”