Fujitsu steps up to the omni-channel retail challenge
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Fujitsu steps up to the omni-channel retail challenge

Kenny MacIver – January 2014

Global ICT giant launches SOA-based point-of-sale application to unify in-store, online and mobile transactions.

Buy in-store, from your PC or from a mobile app. Order by mail or from a service center. Click-and-collect or buy online and return-to-store. The permutations available to todays shoppers have created huge opportunities — and complexity — for retailers worldwide.

Most have met that challenge of extending customer channels by progressively adding new, discrete applications alongside and on top of their existing retail systems. However, the resulting silos of applications and data have often created a disjointed experience for customers and left retailers struggling with integration issues and inefficient, overlapping systems and processes that fail to provide any kind of single view of transactions.

Cropped david-concordel
       David Concordel, Fujitsu

As George Lawrie, principal analyst at Forrester Research, observes: most applications in retail hail from the pre-digital disruption era of mono-channel retail. The big challenge for retailers and their technology partners, he says, has been to deliver omni-channel consumer experiences, despite the incompatibility of the [underlying] package data models.

The solution, according to such retail technology experts, requires the complete re-architecting of traditional retail IT and the creation of a universal point-of-sale (PoS) application layer, underpinned by a single transaction repository, which brokers transactions coming in from any source.

At this weeks National Retail Federation conference in New York, Japanese ICT giant Fujitsu delivered its response to that omni-channel retail challenge. Developed from scratch over the past two years, but drawing on the companys strong pedigree in retail, Fujitsu Retail Solution Market Place is billed as a revolutionary approach to PoS.” It aggregates reference and purchase data from in-store PoS, desktop, mobile and call center customer engagement, resulting in a consistent and seamless buying experience.

Were breaking down the barriers between online, service center orders and in-store shopping.

According to David Concordel, senior VP Global Retail at Fujitsus International Business: “Fujitsu Market Place breaks down traditional barriers between online, service center orders and in-store shopping, combining them into a single transaction. In doing so, he says, It addresses the shift to the new world of retailing — a world driven by customer urgency, convenience, item accessibility and customer service.

From the retailers perspective, it allows business to be transacted through a single application rather than having to switch between in-store PoS and online order fulfillment, says Fujitsu, making the operation quicker, easier, more likely to be accurate and, ultimately, more profitable.

“Fujitsu Market Place cleans up the inelegant and difficult-to-support application spaghetti that has evolved over the past 10 years.

That channel flexibility results from a design that fully exploits service-oriented architecture, loosely binding together discrete blocks of business functionality that are then readily re-usable within and across different channel implementations.

We wanted to make this whole multi-channel world simpler and easier for retailers to support, says Rowan Cape, VP for systems and product integration at Fujitsus global retail software solutions group. It cleans up the inelegant and difficult-to-support application spaghetti that has evolved over the past 10 years with its hundreds of integration points holding together discrete applications. The result, she says, is a single view of customer, pricing and promotions across all channels.

While several of its competitors have sought to address the multi-channel application challenge by wrapping their applications in an SOA skin, Fujitsu Market Place is SOA, all the way from the applications to the integration points.

That modular nature of the architecture ensures the application can be integrated across store models, existing technologies and with popular order-management such as SAP. It should provide flexibility to Fujitsu customers going forward, enabling them to reuse existing software modules to extend the channel mix.
Hybrid deployment

It also means Fujitsu Market Place is deployable in a variety of interoperable modes. The application can be used on servers within stores, with a thin-client option in server-less stores and, when connectivity is reliable, as a cloud-based solution. Moreover, says Rowan, customers can blend these options across their different store formats.

Available from April 2014, Fujitsu Market Place draws on deep retail expertise at the Japanese vendor. It is the next generation in a line of industry-leading products that today includes GlobalSTORE and Fujitsu Retail Suite applications, Genesis Self Service solutions and TeamPoS terminals. Fujitsu boasts more than 500 customers worldwide — operating around 82,000 stores in more than 50 countries — including Auchan, Chicos, EDEKA, Hallmark, Jerónimo Martins, Louis Delhaize Group and Watami International Ltd.

First published January 2014
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