A Look at Omnica’s Software Suite for the U.S.

Omnica is one of the U.K.-based multichannel order management and fulfillment software vendors making inroads in the U.S. market. (MNP is another whose system we reviewed last time.) Based on the Microsoft Dynamics AX platform, Omnica relies on Dynamics AX value added reseller (VAR) partners in the US to handle most of the sales, implementation, and support activities at its three sites: Flaghouse, Direct Wines, and a multichannel company selling health and wellness products. They join more than 20 users in the U.K. doing both business-to-consumer and business-to-business multichannel sales.

Accredited with Microsoft’s highest standard for partner-developed software solutions, Omnica’s solutions are configured specifically for multichannel sales on the Dynamics AX foundation, which Microsoft maintains to assure a uniform baseline for all AX financial, customer relationship, and supply-chain management applications. The Omnica suite itself, with an interface that is consistent with Microsoft Office applications, consists of:
· Omnica Webstore – a comprehensive ecommerce platform with sophisticated online merchandising, customer experience and self-service capabilities;
· Omnica Telesales and Service: for order taking and customer service on the phone, via email, live chat and other channels, in a contact center environment; and
· Omnica MCR back-office: order management capabilities for high-volume marketers and order processors.

Omnica is working with K3, the largest provider of “Dynamics AX for Retail” systems in Europe, to integrate the AX Retail module with the Omnica solution suite to support point-of-sale, store management and retail headquarters management.

Omnica Webstore supports multiple versions of a website in different languages, with different/multiple currencies, and SEO URLs and keywords. Different business rules can be applied to each site, if required.

There is support for customer reviews, faceted search, automatic product recommendations, automatic reordering, and upselling in the shopping cart, gift cards and PayPal as a method of payment. You can attach Word documents to automatically generated customer emails, and automatically assign inbound customer emails to the customer service log. Customer service functions include assigning follow-up tasks to individuals or groups.

Item management and promotions are both robust. Entry of promo codes can auto-populate line items on an order, and there are user-definable cross-sell/upsell prompts (including quantity breaks), there is support for item personalization with the option to add a charge, and kits can be set up and sold with a bill of materials. You can structure marketing activities in terms of brands, channels, campaigns, catalogs, offer codes, key codes, or promotions, coupons, and order profiles. You can also target promotions and offers to particular customer segments and analyze the results.

As with MNP, Omnica has more user-definable promotion management functions than most ecommerce platforms, and these are easily transferred to the Omnica Webstore or to any third-party ecommerce solution.

The back office module supports third-party fulfillment for multiple clients. Omnica expects to have support for handheld units later this year. There is support for cross-docking and drop-shipping. And the system has pick verification for the packing stations. Returns processing can be a single step to handle refunds, credits and exchanges, with or without return authorizations.

In managing the customer file, Omnica creates match codes that let you identify what fields to include and exclude in determining a match. Duplicate records are merged, but you can still do a return against the original record.

A master planning and forecasting module links forecast plans to catalogs, and can generate sales curves for products or product categories, by catalog, which the system will roll up to forecast demand by item across all catalogs.

Finally, Dynamics AX includes a complete accounting module for handling G/L, A/R and A/P functions.

Omnica has applied for PA-DSS compliance certification, and all of its users are currently PCI compliant. The company is putting all credit card transactions into a separate .NET payment window separate from the system, taking this out of scope (essentially the same strategy adopted by MNP). You can apply multiple tenders to an order and do installment payments.

Omnica’s users in the U.S. (as well as in the U.K., for that matter) report that they value the flexibility, stability, and reliability of the system, and the ease with which it can be modified or customized. “Microsoft’s standards and best practices are a major strength of the system,” notes one user, adding that Omnica has done a good job of tailoring AX, originally designed for a manufacturing environment, to the needs of direct commerce and retail businesses.

Like MNP, Omnica is priced for mid-size multichannel merchants. That means merchants should expect to spend in a broad mid-six-figure range for all licenses, fees, and services.

But it’s money well spent with either MNP or Omnica. Both are conscientious vendors with well-developed systems that continue to evolve to meet the needs of the multichannel sales and marketing environment.

Ernie Schell is director of the consultancy Marketing Systems Analysis in Ventnor, NJ.

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