Five years ago, many companies were organized in silo. We could easily find actors of the retail sector with more than six hundred applications in their information system. Product sheets were replicated up to fifty times for the different needs of the sales channels.
At that time, eCommerce platforms kept online transactions in their system. In the same way, the datawarehouse only shared its informations (sales receipt, etc.) with the ERP.
There was often a discrepancy between the message delivered on the web and the one delivered in-store. Online prices were not aligned with those in stores, and sometimes call center provided informations diverging from those presented by the customer service set up in store.
Distribution networks were not spared. Some warehouses were dedicated to eCommerce, others to stores distribution, which made delivery more complex. Dispatching palettes to stores is very different from delivering a single product to a specific address.
As a result, the data was disseminated in different systems.
With the companies globalization and the channels diversification, companies had to rethink the way they processed information from all sources to optimize the supply chain. This diversification and globalization has drastically increased the amount of data stored by organizations.
This data was only waiting for one thing : to be processed. But it must be processed in real time which requires an organized infrastructure adapted to the task.
The CAR solution for Customer Activity Repository is a great solution to overcome these constraints. It collects all the transactional data which was previously spread over multiple independent applications in diverse formats and stores them in one single place, at the lowest, granular level.
What is Customer Activity Repository ?
CAR is a software platform combined with an in-memory database technology. It embeds many services related to geolocation and predictive analytics which adapt to the needs of the business.
The tool relies on three principles :
- It’s a real-time platform that exports data, transforms it and prepares it for subsequent processing.
2. The multiple pre-defined processes used by the tool comply with eCommerce best practices of the last decade.
- The tool connects the key components of an omnichannel business :
* Suppliers, to be able to know the stock at any time ;
* Employees in stores and offices ;
* Consumers/Clients ;
* Connected objects.
Warning : CAR is not a CRM. It’s a database which contains the sales data from every single channel. It’s intended to put the customer at the centre of the business.
How does Customer Activity Repository work ?
To run its services, CAR uses data collected by all the IS applications.
This data is not replicated in the tool. It serves as a repository to link information and add relevant attributes.
Collect offline and online transaction data and enrich it before sending it to other systems.
Get snapshots of your inventory and stock levels in real-time.
CRM data :
Associate and combine transaction data with a customer data. Make behavioral predictions.
All this information is harmonized in the same format to give multichannel data back from a single database.
The tool also provides an interpretation of the data via two different perspectives.
A “channels” view
How a product “performs” on different channels or on a specific point of sale.
What are the best sellers ?
A “customer” view
Where does he buy
When does he buy
What does he buy
## Architecture flow
CAR’s integration architecture is customer centric. That’s why CAR is a part of the Information System.
The information is stored in the same place, available in real time for every need. The applications supported on CAR share the same database but they read the information with their own processing schema adapted to this data.
Warning : this only concerns the customer data (whether identified or not), this never concerns prospects data which doesn’t generate a request.
Because it’s pooled, the information provided by marketing campaigns can become relevant to the sales consultant.
Crosses are numerous. Burberry is “pushing” every customer data collected to its store tablets with the intention of offering a completely personalized store experience to its consumers.
This pooling also solves problems known in supply chain, because we’re now able to know the routing of a product from a point of sale or a warehouse.
Thanks to these connections, a thorough analysis is possible. Once the appropriate connections with a product catalog are made, we can notice the sale frequency of a specific product in shop and issue the necessary alert.
On Thursdays an order is placed every ten minutes whereas on Friday, an order is placed every hour. Where does the decrease in sales come from ?
CAR is a repository which provides a common base and a harmonized multichannel transaction data model for every data-consuming applications.
Note also that the solution goes beyond the referencing. It even processes and audits the data in real time with predictive models and out of the box reporting. Then, all results are made available, in a single database.
However, the notion of “Client Activity” in the CAR name isn’t really effective without an interfaced marketing tool. Real time, stock’s insight, embedded predictions models … are its real assets.