My Dog, Cross-Channel Shopping, and Fusion SCM

A guest post by Mark Carson, Director, Oracle Fusion Supply Chain Management

I was walking my dog Max in an open space behind my house. As we tromped through the tall weeds I remembered it is tick season and that I should get Max some protection. While he sniffed merrily in the tick infested brush, I started shopping in the middle of an open field on my phone.

I thought it would be convenient to pick up the tick medicine from a pet store on the way home. Searching the pet store website I saw that they had the medicine, but there was no information on whether the store had any in stock and there were no options for shipping it to the store for pickup. I could return it, but not pick it up which seamed kind of odd. I really didn't feel like making calls to the local stores to find out if they had it.

Since the product is popular, I tried one of the large 'everything' stores. Browsing its website I could see that it could be shipped to me, shipped to the store for free, and that the store nearest to me had it in stock. Needless to say, this store became a better option.

This experience is a small example of why retailers, distributors, and manufactures have placed a high priority on enabling 'cross-channel commerce.' Shoppers like you and me expect to be able to search, compare, buy and return products on-line and over the phone using a variety of devices including PDAs, tablets and in-store kiosks. The pet store lost my business because its web channel had limited information about its stores.

I have spoken with many customers and prospects about cross-channel commerce. They all realize the business implications and urgency behind cross-channel commerce but recognize there are challenges to enable it. New and existing applications must be integrated together globally through a consistent cross-channel business process. Integration is required between applications that provide the initial shopping experience and delivery applications associated with warehouses, stores, and partners. The enablement must be accomplished in a flexible way to react to fast-changing product portfolios and new acquisitions, while at the same time minimizing costs through reuse of existing systems. Meanwhile, the business must continue to grow and decision makers need to balance new capability with peak seasons.

The challenges above are not unique to retail. Any customer in any industry who has multiple points for capturing orders and multiple points for fulfilling orders will face these challenges. With this in mind, we had a unique opportunity in Fusion SCM to re-think how to build a set of modular and flexible applications in the order management space that would make these challenges easier to conquer. The results are Fusion Distributed Order Orchestration and Global Order Promising.

These applications can help companies, such as the pet store, enable true cross-channel commerce. The apps provide highly adaptable and flexible business processes to automate order orchestration across multiple cross-channel systems. They also show a global view of supply across warehouses, stores, and partners for real-time availability and more accurate order promising. Additional capability includes a standards-based integration framework for seamless execution and the ability to reuse existing systems for faster and lower cost implementations.

OK, that was a mouthful of features and benefits. As Max waited to cross the street (he can do basic math too), I wondered if he could relate. He does not care about leash laws, pick-up courtesy, where he can/can't walk, what time of day it is, or even ticks. He does not care about how all these things could make walking complicated. He just wants to walk. Similarly, customers just want to shop and companies just want to make it easier to sell and deliver.

You can learn more about Distributed Order Orchestration and Global Order Promising in cross-channel here.

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