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Last update: Dec 4, 2017

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 Hybris Commerce and the SAP backends SAP Retail for Merchandise Management (aka SAP Retail) and SAP S/4HANA.

Omnichannel Article Availability and Sourcing was first introduced with SAP CAR 2.0 Application Bundle 1.0 Feature Pack 3 in 2015 and has been massively improved and extended by then. See more below.

Why Cross-Channel Availability & Sourcing?

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 on
the stock availability check and reservation across channels, as well as sourcing in an SAP Retail Omnichannel business.

Article Availability


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 Hybris Commerce is perfectly integrated with OAA with the SAP Hybris Commerce, integration package for SAP for Retail. The Hybris Assisted Service Mode is an addon to SAP Hybris Commerce and allows the integration of sales activities in the physical store with the digital commerce platform, e.g. customer clienteling and endless aisle.

OAA can also  integrate with 3rd party solutions like commerce platforms, mobile apps, etc.

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 Hybris Commerce. This data is used within SAP Hybris 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.


Sourcing Determination


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 Hybris StoreLocator. 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).

A Sales Channel, let’s use a Hybris Commerce webshop for country xy in this example, is assigned to a so-called OAA Profile in SAP CAR. An OAA Profile is a customizing Profile that holds all Information how to perform sourcing and stock reservation, = eligible sources, ATP Determination Profile, sourcing strategies and prio, Reservation handling.  

With CARAB 2.0 FP1 in May 2017 the so-called “Sales Channel Mode” was introduced, which allows to maintain the sourcing via FIORI applications, see the videos:

How-to video for developers:

The videos reflect the OAA scope of Q2/2017. Innovations in Q4/2017 feature pack are described here.

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.


Offline Scenario

In case the REST services in SAP CAR are not responding in time a failsafe mechanism is applied in SAP Hybris Commerce, which uses the aggregated stock inventory that has been replicated into SAP Hybris Commerce before. This “offline scenario” allows consumers to create their orders in SAP Hybris Commerce, but no inventory check, sourcing and reservation in SAP CAR has been done.

In consequence the submitted consumer orders remain in SAP Hybris Commerce and are NOT transferred to the SAP backend. SAP Hybris 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 Hybris Commerce with the results from SAP CAR. Then the so-processed (regularly) Hybris orders are replicated to the SAP backend for further logistical fulfillment.

Value Proposition

  • 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 Hybris 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
  • Standard integration in SAP Hybris Commerce with SAP Hybris Commerce, integration package for SAP for Retail

Important Links

Minimum System Requirements

The Omnichannel Article Availability and Sourcing is located in SAP CAR Application Bundle and integrates with SAP ERP Retail and SAP Hybris Commerce. The standard integration with SAP Hybris Commerce is provided by the SAP Hybris Commerce, integration package for SAP for Retail.

Here the minimum release requirements of the required SAP components.

See also Overview of versions and OAA features by release

 

More information about Omnichannel Article Availability is found in the SAP CAR section of the Retail Omnichannel Customer Wiki.

Please follow this blog to be informed of updates of this blog.

Enjoy,

Ingo

Dr. Ingo Woesner
Global Director, Outbound Product Management Retail Omni-Channel
SAP SE
ingo.woesner@sap.com
www.sap.com

Follow me on SAP Community Network and LinkedIn

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This document, or any related document and SAP’s strategy and possible future developments, products and or platforms directions and functionality are all subject to change and may be changed by SAP at any time for any reason without notice. The information in this document is not a commitment, promise or legal obligation to deliver any material, code or functionality. This document is provided without a warranty of any kind, either express or implied, including but not limited to, the implied warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, or non-infringement. This document is for informational purposes and may not be incorporated into a contract. SAP assumes no responsibility for errors or omissions in this document, except if such damages were caused by SAP´s willful misconduct or gross negligence.
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3 Comments

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  1. Sharmi G

    Hello,

    Thanks for this document. Is this mandatory to use Hybris in OAA of CAR? If you dont use Hybris then what will be the use of OAA in CAR?

     

    Thanks,

    sharmi

    (0) 
  2. Kyle Thackwray

    Thanks for the great document.

    When will ATP parallelization be available in S4 HANA 1610 or 1709. Currently I see 1610 does not have the table OAA_ATP_PROFILE nor the programs associated with it which is required by CAR for OAA.

    Thanks,

    Kyle

    (0) 
    1. Ingo Woesner Post author

       

      Hi Kyle,

      ATP parallelization is available with 1709. In addition you can choose between sATP = Standard ATP and aATP = Advanced ATP (aATP requires an additional license).

      Best regards,

      Ingo

      (0) 

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