In November we had the opportunity to review products from two Microsoft partners: Omnica and HSO. Combined they offer Microsoft software to companies that employ multichannel marketing strategies.
Wikipedia defines multichannel marketing as the use of many different marketing channels to reach a customer.In this sense, a channel might be a retail store, a web site, a mail order catalogue, or direct personal communications by letter, email or text message. The objective of the companies doing the marketing is to make it easy for a consumer to buy from them in whatever way is most appropriate.
The software vendors in this space are now defining two categories: Multi-Channel Retail (MCR) and Multi-Channel Distribution (MCD) that include integrated function to address the needs for distribution, catalog, e-commerce, and retail POS.
Traditional ERP solutions do not address the needs of multichannel marketing well.
Omnica has headquarters in the UK. The company was founded in 2007. Since its inception it has implemented multichannel marketing solutions for 50 companies, mostly in Europe. The company offers three applications that are integrated into a complete Microsoft Dynamics AX solution:
- Web store
- Back office
We looked at all three in our review for our client. Omnica has some of the best software we have seen for multichannel marketing:
- Management of product data: multiple images and copy, SEO keywords, HTML editor, and multiple product categories
- Extensive telesales function: search capability of both ERP data and web store data, add customers on the fly, 360 views, extensive pricing and promotion options that are consistent between web store and customer service, up-sell, drop-ship, credit card, and scarce inventory allocation
- Campaign management
- All integrate as one set of code for MCR/MCD function as well as back office function in purchasing, inventory, warehouse and accounting.
This solution from Omnica is a Microsoft Certified ISV.
HSO is a relative new entrant to the US market. The new HSO subsidiary is now managed by Brad Dennison, an ERP veteran with experience with Microsoft Dynamics AX dating back to 2002. HSO was founded in 1989. The company became a Microsoft partner in 2002. The company has several subsidiaries that operate in various parts of the globe. Combined they have 325 AX consultants which puts them in the top 5 of AX partners that operate globally.
HSO is a Microsoft Certified Partner and an Inner Circle Partner. They are responsible for the single largest Microsoft AX site with over 6,500 end-users running 9 distribution centers and 400 stores in 9 countries. HSO is the North American Distributor/Partner for Omnica, as well as Microsoft’s distribution partner of the year 2010.
Ultra is seeing greater demand for multichannel marketing solutions. As more manufacturers and distributors learn how to take advantage of multiple web stores, email campaigns, internet catalogs, and internet retail stores (such as EBay, Amazon, etc.) there becomes a greater need to have effective product data management that seamlessly interfaces with the Internet.
Ultra recommends that manufacturing and distribution companies, that are using multichannel marketing strategies, take a look at these two companies. Although they both have relatively small customer sets in the US, we think that will change quickly.