From the simple setup that involved using a TV and a domestic telephone line, e-commerce has greatly evolved since its introduction by Michael Aldrich in the late 1970s. Today it includes more innovative ways to shop online including mobile devices as well as connected stores.
In order to keep pace with the growing demands of today’s customers and partners, retail businesses need to deliver connected and personalized experiences across stores, the web, mobile and social channels. Becoming a connected enterprise helps to offer these experiences to consumers.
For the enterprise, a connected retail business will help to increase the reach of the business, explore and discover new business opportunities, and increase revenue. But that’s easier said than done. The complexity of the IT landscape, which consists of multiple disparate systems linked together and exposed through several interfaces and channels, pose many challenges.
Kasun Indrasiri, an architect at WSO2, authored the white paper “Connected Retail Reference Architecture,” that discusses the importance of creating a connected retail system today and explains how a complete middleware platform can help address these challenges and meet the demands of multichannel retail IT requirements.
Here are some insights from his white paper.
Among some of the key hurdles an enterprise would need to overcome to become connected is to develop transparent, collaborative, and real-time supply chains through seamless interaction with all systems to optimize underlying inventory stores. Managing multiple channels through which data and sales management are performed has also become extremely difficult due to its large scale.
To this end, a retail enterprise can adopt a comprehensive solution that will connect the dots and eventually facilitate the creation of a fully functional ecosystem. This ecosystem must contain various layers including an integration layer that allows merchandising, order management, supply chain, and distribution systems to communicate with each other. It should also have an API management layer that will be used to expose functionalities directly to customers and external users while business analytics in the analytics layer will be used to gather insightful information that’s key and relevant to the business.
A successful connected retail enterprise will seamlessly connect, manage and control its service layers, underlying web services, and all other business services.
An architecture such as this can help create a rich customer experience through fast delivery and checkout procedures, manage multiple channels through which data and sales management are performed, and seamlessly upload price updates so that it propagates to all parts of the retail ecosystem.
To learn more about how products within the comprehensive, open source WSO2 enterprise middleware platform can be used to meet a retail enterprise’s IT requirements, you can download Kasun’s whitepaper by visiting http://wso2.com/whitepapers/connected-retail-reference-architecture.