Today i will talk about my experiences on SAP Retail Integration “Pain-point“. This topic i think it isn’t new for you guys who do retail integration.
We saw very nice integration Landscape with data transfer smoothly from system to system, from SAP to vendor systems. But behind the screen there are many pain-point you will facing to make sure technical system does not effect business daily basic.
This topic will show my opinions about SAP retail integration, you can share your idea by comment on below.
1. Real Time Inventory
Real-time or near real-time inventory is important in retail.
Customer matter: for online sales channel where system/website can show available stock to customer, customer can check store location nearest actively. With walk-in customer, cashier/sales man can help check available stock to increase sales opportunities.
Example: Walking customer goes to store A asking for new release Phone, but Phone sold out store A, sales man will check stock stores nearest customer location and suggest delivery to customer at some point of time.
Store and Distribution Center matter: Store manager and Distribution Center (DC) operation can see actual inventory in their location and ready for fulfillment and other purchasing, plaining inventory activities. Moreover customer booking then negative stock and can not deliver on-time will be negative impact with customer and retailer consequence.
Inventory impacted from many sources, one of main source is from sales out. As you see picture above, retailer systems own different system landscape, technologies, infrastructure. Inventory data flow will go to system to system before go to SAP, that mean integration design and monitoring have to authenticity and regularly. So the challenging come from vendor system like POS, E-Commerce ..etc. In this case SAP side can not control.
Development effort matter: As you see in landscape above, CAR now is one of important system to audit, aggregate and analytic data. Data available on HANA views, where you can perform visualize by development.
So, pain-point here:
– To get inventory exactly, make sure that no down-time interfaces which impact inventory
– Vendor system dependency
2. Offline System Mode
We have to accept that networking and infrastructure now are perfect, but it isn’t mean no down-time.
Online and Offline modes are regularly question of retailer.
Online System Mode help data transfer consistency reduce impact business.
Offline System Mode help store can run with own master data when network down.
Online-offline combination: the combination between online and offline modes of vendor’s system will help improve data real-time and reduce business impact.
Example: Electronic store POS system still can sales with own master data when system down.
Online-offline combination, we have to design integration more flexible to adapt. Not only SAP, vendor system also have adapted.
To run offline mode, example POS have to store Material, Sales Price, Promotion on local PC. Transaction data will be synced to POS HQ when network is up.
Asynchronous integration messages is recommended for online-offline mode.
So, the pain-point here:
– Make sure that vendor’s system can run on both mode
– Integration objects may need more to adapt offline mode
3. System Distribution
Vendor system may distribute depend on their own infrastructure, location and data volume. Data transfer from font-end to back-end thought steps. SAP Integration services like PI/PO itself designed should not access data to each terminal. So the question is how to collect data from each server and send to SAP ? and how to distribute data (example: master data) to each terminal ?.
Normally, vendor’s system will have “Integration Tools”, it look like middleware component where it can collect and distribute data to servers / terminals
So, the pain-point here:
– Vendor system need build / adjust “integration tools” to adapt interface objects.
– Pay more effort for interfaces monitoring.
– Complexity of system landscape