Dear Retail community,
this blog is about the omnichannel inventory visibility capabilities in SAP CAR, "Omnichannel Article Availability and Sourcing", simply called "OAA".
It covers stock availability view across channels, provides omnichannel order sourcing capabilities, stock reservation during the checkout, and a lot more.
OAA is designed and ready for high-volume B2C businesses. Provided as part of SAP CAR Application Bundle, it is perfectly integrated with SAP (ex Hybris) Commerce and the SAP backends SAP Retail for Merchandise Management (aka SAP Retail) and SAP S/4HANA.
Consumers do not think in "sales channels", but rather perceive the retailer as a "brand". Hence they expect changing from webshop to mobile app to store is harmonized and consistent.
However, retailers run separate IT applications for their various channels, which are typically standalone for performance reasons, e.g. a POS system or an ecommerce platform.
When these separated sales channels ("silos") should play smoothly together to become "OMNIchannel", processes like stock availability check, sourcing, campaign management, promotion pricing ... become OMNI as well.
When sales channels - virtually - become one, IT processes have to support it. - across the various IT applications.
With classical split between SD Sales and POS this is not feasible. Therefore the "Omnichannel Article Availability and Sourcing" was designed to provide omnichannel capabilities as a single source of truth for omnichannel stock availability view across stores, distribution centers and vendor stock, with a cross channel order sourcing on top, combining the digital commerce domain with phsical store business.
Omnichannel Article Availability and Sourcing in Retail
This blog focusses onthe stock availability check and reservation across channels, as well as sourcing in an SAP Retail Omnichannel business.
Reliable and consistent availability information across sales channels is key for omnichannel retail businesses.
This causes a massive volume in terms of availability requests from the online channels, which must be matched with computationally expensive availability calculations in the backends. Due to the multitude of channels and fulfillment ways, the available sourcing options are greatly increased, asking for more flexible and intelligent sourcing strategies that are not supported by conventionals ERP systems today.
The new Omnichannel Article Availability and Sourcing (OAA) solution is based on a new common cross-channel availability module in SAP CARAB Feature Pack, that consists of different data sources for distribution centers (DC's), stores and vendors:
Pre-calculated DC stock availability information as ATP stock with time series, determined via a periodical parallel ATP Run in ECC
Store inventory (out of CAR, continuously mapped with incoming POS documents)
Vendor Stock (as of CAR 3.0)
On various levels (e.g. product hierarchy, merchandise category, article), thresholds for a traffic light availability status can be defined in SAP CAR (using the SAP HANA rules framework) that can be used to populate a rough stock indicator.
REST services in SAP CAR allow real-time omnichannel availability requests from consuming sales channels, e.g. from a web shop.
SAP Commerce on-prem is perfectly integrated with OAA via the SAP Commerce, integration package for SAP for Retail. The SAP Commerce, Assisted Service Mode is an addon to SAP Commerce and allows the integration of sales activities in the physical store with the digital commerce platform, e.g. customer clienteling and endless aisle.
For the sake of performance, availability information per product (aggregated across all sources) incl. calculated rough stock indicators (RSI) are periodically replicated locally into SAP Commerce. This data is used within SAP Commerce to add stock availability and traffic lights to search results, product lists and product details, where ultimate stock accuracy is not required.
Undisturbed by those requests, more relevant availability requests demanding a higher accuracy are processed in real-time by the SAP CAR based REST services, e.g. for product details, shopping cart items, or during checkout.
During checkout, a sourcing determination can be performed within SAP CAR at runtime. This is only done for orders which are picked from a DC or fulfillment center.
In contract to DC orders, orders that are fulfilled by a store are "sourced" by the consumer because he has selected the store he wants to collect his order. The store is selected by the consumer in the web shop using the SAP Commerce Store Locator. So typically no sourcing determination and optimization is required for store orders (unless the orders are picked centrally in a DC and shipped to the desired store for the handover to the customer).
With CARAB 2.0 FP1 in May 2017 the so-called "Sales Channel Mode" was introduced, which allows to maintain sales channels, sources, sourcing networks and sourcing strategies via SAP FIORI applications.
Temporary Stock Reservation
During the order checkout, right after the sourcing has been completed, a temporary stock reservation is triggered within CAR, reducing the order stock from the inventory repository. This prevents overselling and secures the shopping cart items for the consumer in the checkout.
Once the order is transferred from SAP Hybris Commerce into IS Retail, it is also transferred via SLT into CAR. When the order is picked and fulfilled in SD, the order status changes, which reduces the DC stock for the given product accordingly. This is considered in the next ATP run, which triggers a reset of the reservations in CAR.
In case the OAA REST services in SAP CAR are not responding in time a failsafe mechanism is applied in SAP Commerce, which uses the aggregated stock inventory that has been replicated into SAP Commerce before. This "offline scenario" allows consumers to create their orders in SAP Commerce, but no inventory check, sourcing and reservation in SAP CAR has been done.
In consequence the submitted consumer orders remain in SAP Commerce and are NOT transferred to the SAP backend. SAP Commerce tries to re-connect with SAP CAR (configurable). Once re-connected the stored orders are processed by SAP CAR (inventory check, sourcing, reservation) and updated in SAP Commerce with the results from SAP CAR. Then the so-processed (regularly) Commerce orders are replicated to the SAP backend for further logistical fulfillment.
True Omnichannel Availability Check across DC’s, stores and vendors
Designed for high volume B2C businesses
Quasi real time, as precise as possible
Complete stock information and determination consolidated in SAP CAR
DC’s ATP stock + complete time series cached in SAP CAR and SAP Commerce, incl. delta mechanism
Aggregated “Traffic Lights” for search results and product lists in webshop incl. delta update
Temporary Product Reservation in webshop checkout
Dynamic Delivery Sourcing – flexible, highly adaptable, with prioritized strategies and business objectives
Failsafe mechanism in SAP CAR doesn't reply in time
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