Under Construction – Setting the foundation of the 7 Layer Technology Model

By : Patrick O'Mara

May 03, 2017 12:00 PM

As discussed in the ‘Green Grass and Brittle Bones’ blog post, setting the foundation for retail systems is critical for enabling a retailer to successfully deploy apps faster and cheaper. 


Mistrusted or siloed data represent key hindrances to moving to omni-channel and online/app based commerce. Data consolidation and exposition is critical to driving the success of quick and effective distribution of new apps and offering of new channels. 


As such, NCR recognizes data as the first layer in the 7 Layer Omni Commerce Model, critical to successful deployment of new customer touchpoints. 


Layer 1: Data - a single source of truth


Imagine walking into your local shop to pick up a few items - while you are in the store, you decide to check prices on your phone and have some bulkier items shipped to your home.  As a consumer, how can you trust the retailer if you see significantly different pricing online or in the app compared to prices in the physical store?


Some operations and marketing executives scoff at the idea of investing time consolidating data. However, they are overlooking how critical a solid data source is within an operation.  With the previous single channel operation, the data source needs to only connect with one source – the point of sale (POS).  As retailers have moved from single-, to multi-, to omni-channel – a reliable data source is required to avoid the risk of presenting the wrong items to the wrong customer, at the wrong price.


Providing a seamless experience in-store, online or in-app can’t happen without first consolidating to a single data source.  This enables the exposition of a single source of truth, regardless of whether on- shelf or on-screen. If data is coming from multiple sources, retailers can be sure that the overall data set will not be properly synced, and a gap in the user experience is inevitable.  Likewise, a central solution must be flexible, allowing interaction with channels available today – as well as new channels dreamed up by the CMO, at a lower cost and lower time to market.


Layer 2: Inventory- knowing where everything is


Have you ever logged on to a company’s website or app to validate if product was in stock? Did your buying decision change if the product was out of stock or inventory was not displayed?

As consumers have more options on where and how to buy, they are naturally, only tuning into retailers who can give them the products they want, when they want them.  Displaying a trusted inventory on a retail app becomes the second layer of the 7 Layer Model as it:


  • Instills consumer confidence that if they visit the store, they can be rewarded with immediate satisfaction
  • Encourages a consumer to visit the shop or encourages the consumer to buy from the retail location online


Retailers who list an item available online, but it is unavailable through a consumer’s desired channel immediately risk customer loyalty – as a bad experience related to getting the expected product can alter the customer experience forever.

Additionally, retailers should consider implementing a centralized and extensible inventory solution as an opportunity to reduce unnecessary inventory investment – freeing capital to be used on additional customer experience projects.


Layer 3: transactions – buying, selling and moving through the supply chain


Buyers straddle the delicate line between art and science trying to figure out which channel to purchase from – As retailers add channels which a consumer may purchase through, the buyer’s job must expand to account for this new demand.


A retailer must have the ability to move product throughout the organization, by breaking down silos of how product is bought, sold, and moved through the supply chain. With each additional channel, siloed transaction engines become more untenable. 


Due to the critical nature of this, transactions create the 3rd layer of the 7 Layer Unified Commerce Model.  Looking specifically at the scenario described above – while buyers traditionally have focused on bringing products into a warehouse to support a store’s traditional sales, now buyers must take into account demand from traditional brick and mortar, buy online and pick up in store, and direct to consumer delivery.  To accomplish this, buyers must have the tools that transition from siloed solutions into a unified and extensible transaction platform. 


The good news is that while retailers provide buyers the opportunity to have full visibility into demand through an organization – organizations are able to save money by freeing capital in dead inventory.  In addition, the ability to ensure product is available in the right channel, at the right time (brick and mortar store, dark store, warehouse, etc.) drives customer loyalty and increases sales.


As a retailer, once you have consolidated your data, inventory, and transactions, you are well prepared to being moving up the model – to achieve the end goal of simply and quickly deploying a new customer facing app.  NCR is a leader in establishing these foundational layers with best-in-class tools, like Power HQ, Power Inventory, Power DAX, and Power Purchasing – each driving the consolidation of data, inventory, and transactions.  When you are ready to look at consolidating – we look forward to speaking with you on how to obtain a quick ROI, while building the foundation for your future.

Patrick O'Mara

Consulting Solution Engineer

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Patrick is a retail specialist with experience ranging from cashier, stock boy, store management and implementation projects. Patrick is currently serving as a Consulting Solution Engineer for NCR with a focus on merchandising and inventory solutions.