Being the wealth of UK data integration knowledge that Mark is, last week’s article was just the tip of the iceberg.
This week, we bring you Mark’s follow up article. Keep reading!
International Expansion: The Rise Of Global Marketplaces (A Data Integration Perspective)
By Mark Goodwin
Data Integration for International Expansion
Once marketplace and country selection has been concluded and commercial have been agreed between the marketplace and retailer, the processes moves to the second phase: that of Data Integration.
Data Integration: The Discovery Phase
During the initial discovery phase, the level of data integration complexities start to surface from aspects such as but not limited to:
- Legacy Systems and Applications
- Cloud based and SAAS solutions
- Existing Data Integrations
- Integration Touch Points
- Size and Complexity of Trading Partner Network
- Data Standards and Formats between Systems, Applications, Trading Partners and Marketplaces
- Business Operations
- Quality of Product Data
- Inventory Visibility
- Carrier Requirements
Data Integration: Trading with the Marketplaces
Each marketplace has its own unique set of mandatory data requirements, data formats, specifications, favoured method of platform-to-platform communication and in-turn will dictate their requirements for trading compliance.
By reviewing the core management functions at a marketplace, it provides relevant insight required for the B2B to B2C integration process. The main four core functions can be summarised as:
- Store/Shop Management
- Product & Catalogue Management
- Order management
- Customer management
Data Integration: Message Volumes
Each of these ‘core functions’ for each marketplace will require different messages formats, message types, API calls and/ or flat files to in-act the relevant operations required by the Retailer or Marketplace.
Message volumes could range anywhere from 5 – 25 message types to carry out all basic actions for the marketplace.
When this is reviewed commercially with a retailer selecting five marketplaces for their international expansion and its translated into technical requirements – this is when the true picture of complexity becomes apparent.
A breakdown shows that with five marketplaces selected, the message volumes required could range from 25 – 125 messages, with a mean average of 75 messages (15 messages per Marketplace). These messages would typically then be formatted in XML, JSON, CSV, TXT, or TSV with different data structures being flat and hierarchical. That’s a lot of complex mapping requirements.
This is even before the various methods of communication protocols have been factored in such as REST, SOAP, FTP. S/FTP, HTTP, HTTP/S.
Data Integration: B2B to B2C Integration
Typically, most retailer business operation will involve physical store locations, warehousing, the brand-owned website, supplier networks and/or any 3rd party logistic providers.
Each of these operations will have different integration touch point and operational considerations that must be fused with bi-directional integration with each of the marketplaces (B2C) using different message and data formats. Each will require integrations with following types of systems:
- Enterprise System (ERP, OMS, WMS, etc.)
- Carrier Management Systems
- Accounting Systems (for cross-border taxation, vat rates, import duties, etc.)
- CRM/ Marketing Systems
Data Integration: Product Data
Even if the bi-directional integration has been successfully established between the retailer and the marketplaces, the quality and completeness of the retailer’s product data will now dictate if they are able to meet the minimum mandatory data requirements to trade with each of the marketplaces. This is a key limiting factor faced by many retailers. A secondary limiting factor closely tied to this is that of language translation of product data for non-English marketplaces.
To best resolve this issue, data integration experts and services make use of a centralised data repository to standardise data where all necessary product information can be transferred between the various marketplaces. This allows for greater message transformation flexibility and in-turn quicker on-boarding with marketplaces.
This article has just scratched the surface of an ever evolving integration piece that is proving to be big and complex. But in this complexity holds the potential for large scale and rapid growth in new markets and geographies for the retailers who are able to execute it correctly by blending their existing operations with true bi-directional integrations with various marketplaces.
About Mark Goodwin
Mark has worked within the Supply Chain and Retail industry for over 15 years and heads up the Integration Practice at Grazia Shop.
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