May 9, 2017

Manhattan Associates software bundle unites e-commerce and physical storefronts

Cloud-based Manhattan Active suite includes Active Omni, Active Supply Chain, and Active Store.

By Ben Ames

Supply chain software developer Manhattan Associates Inc. unveiled today a bundle of software products and services that it says can help streamline inventory management and supply chain execution in an age when the line between e-commerce and physical storefront operations is blurring.

Known as the Manhattan Active suite, the bundle includes three solutions called Active Omni, Active Supply Chain, and Active Store, the Atlanta-based company announced at its annual Manhattan Momentum customer conference in Las Vegas.

Users who adopt the new products can improve the efficiency of their store, warehouse, transportation, and inventory management tasks, Manhattan Associates President and CEO Eddie Capel said in a general session. Improving operational efficiency is increasingly crucial in an era when retailers' brick-and-mortar and digital sales channels are rapidly merging into extensions of each other as opposed to being independent operations, Capel said.

The rising popularity of retail innovations such as the voice-operated artificial intelligence (AI) of Google Home, frictionless commerce of Apple Pay, and fast fulfillment of Inc. have erased the concept of a single retail "point of sale," he said. Additionally, brick-and-mortar storefronts now fulfill a variety of needs, serving as a boutique shop, consultancy, billboard, fulfillment center, and—yes—an old fashioned, cash-and-carry hub, Capel said.

The Manhattan Active suite addresses those changes by integrating previously independent functions such as warehouse, transportation, and sales into a single pool of data, allowing users to make more nimble decisions and changes, he said.

The Active Omni Solution is an "omnichannel-as-a-service" platform that creates a single application fusing order management and store fulfillment with point of sale solutions and "clienteling" (a term that describes the use of customer data to predict buyers' behaviors and purchases), Manhattan said. The product is targeted at companies that must respond to the ever-changing demands of the digital consumer with upgrades in sales, service, and fulfillment technology.

The Active Supply Chain Solution is designed to increase warehouse throughput and help users keep up with the pace of warehouse systems innovation. The product includes an Active Distribution solution that focus on warehouse and labor management and an Active Transportation unit that provides logistics management and shipment visibility.

The third component of the suite is the Active Store Solution, which spans a wide spectrum of retail store activities, from point of sale data capture and analysis and clienteling to store inventory management and store fulfillment. By covering those aspects in a single platform, the product is designed to help retail store employees keep up with a job description that is changing from purely handling merchandise transactions toward a focus on customer engagement and experience, micro marketing, fulfillment of "buy online, pick up in store" orders, and direct shipping.

Manhattan also said that it has designed the software to be cheaper and easier to use. By delivering software upgrades over a cloud-based platform for most users, the company says it can reduce the downtime typically required for them. Since the software will be hosted on a cloud environment, Manhattan will ensure it is always current with the latest extensions and modifications, freeing customers from the task of managing the products themselves, the company said.

About the Author

Ben Ames
Senior Editor
Ben Ames has spent 20 years as a journalist since starting out as a daily newspaper reporter in Pennsylvania in 1995. From 1999 forward, he has focused on business and technology reporting for a number of trade journals, beginning when he joined Design News and Modern Materials Handling magazines. Ames is author of the trail guide "Hiking Massachusetts" and is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism.

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