CISTECH

Communication breaks down

That doesn't stop business

Because you hedge your bets

360° Retail Communication & Redundancy

360° Retail is scalable to retail operations in multi-site enterprises of various sizes and complexity.  Communication forms a core component of this scalability.  360° Retail has a set of communication tools that seamlessly takes care of data replication, dissemination and integration using the Internet as transmission medium.  This allows organisations a large amount of flexibility in designing their network topology.  Data transmission can take place via an intermediary FTP server or via direct TCP/IP communication.

Figure 1 - Head Office with Multiple Stores

Functional levels are implemented through security rights allocated to defined security groups rather than the position of a specific store/branch in the hierarchy.  This allows maintenance of any master data from any node in the hierarchy.

All master data is replicated to each node with data visibility determined, where applicable, either by store configuration or by security rights.  This ensures that master data added at any store will be available at all other stores or higher level nodes for transacting or reporting.

Scenario

We will explain the typical operation of 360° Retail in a multi-site environment configured to have a single Head-Office with multiple single level subsidiary stores, as indicated in Figure 1.

In this scenario the majority of master data management functions are undertaken by the Head Office while transactions are performed at the stores.

Figure 2 - Components of a Client/Server based 360° Retail Terminal

Head-Office Operation

The Head-Office 360° Retail installation contains the components indicated in Figure 2.  The Terminal software can reside on the same physical computer as the Server components.  For additional on-line terminals, only the Terminal Software is installed.

Master Data

Master data management functions for all stores are available at Head Office level.  These functions include:

  1. Inventory master data
    1. Inventory Items and Barcodes
      1. Items can be limited to only be available in certain stores for transactions.
      2. Item costing is maintained per store.
      3. Stock holding is maintained per store.
  1. Departments
  2. Price lists and pricing
  3. Specials and promotions
    1. Can be specified for specific stores only.
  4. Customer master data
    1. Customers can be limited to only be available in certain stores for transactions.
  5. Supplier master data
  6. Resources
    1. Resources can be assigned to different security groups in different stores enabling them to fulfil different roles at different locations.
    2. Access can further be limited to a specific store/set of stores.
  7. Store map
    1. Stores can be configured to
      1. supply to other stores in the hierarchy
      2. be a client of other stores in the hierarchy

Transactional Data

Detailed transactional data from all stores is replicated to Head Office.  This data is available for reporting, analysing and exporting.  Transactional data includes:

  1. Sales
  2. Stock
    1. Purchase Orders
    2. Stock Receipts
    3. Stock-takes
    4. Inter-Branch Transfers
    5. Stock Adjustments
    6. Production Runs
    7. Item Repacking
  3. Customers
  4. Suppliers
  5. Accounting

Reports cater for specific store reporting or selectable store group reporting where applicable.  Any additional reporting can be done using the built in generic database query tool or from external reporting tools using an applicable ODBC or ADO driver for Firebird.

Data can be exported to a number of formats (including Excel spreadsheets) from all reports and grids.

Store Operation

The Store 360° Retail installation contains the components indicated in Figure 2.  The Terminal software can reside on the same physical computer as the Server components.  For additional on-line terminals, only the Terminal Software is installed.

Master Data

Master data at stores is generally received from Head Office.  There may be exceptional circumstances where it is desirable to allow maintenance of certain master data at store level.  This could include maintaining:

  1. Store-specific items
  2. Store specific pricing
    1. Price-list substitution can be configured per store to override default pricing to that applicable at the specific store.
  3. Store specials and promotions
  4. Store specific customers
  5. Store specific suppliers

Transactional Data

All relevant transactions are captured by the store.  This data is replicated to all other stores (higher and/or lower in the hierarchy) configured to receive the data

Data Replication

Off-line Redundancy

360° Retail provides off-line redundancy by operating on a database located on a Local Area Network at each physical store location.  Additional processes, described below, are responsible for sequenced data replication as and when the necessary network connections for data synchronisation are available.

This arrangement allows for near-real time data to be available at all locations where a communications channel is available, while allowing stores that are experiencing communication interruptions, to continue trading.

Processes

MultiSite

The MultiSite process is responsible for data replication between sites at specified intervals.  Changed data is extracted from the local database into specially formatted comma delimited flat text files, ready for transfer to recipient locations.  MultiSite also processes changes from remote locations, delivered in the above mentioned format, into the local database.  Processing is done according to configurable time intervals.

DataX

DataX is a direct TCP/IP or FTP based file transfer utility used for the movement of files between physical locations, at specified intervals.

DataX will attempt to transfer any data at scheduled intervals.  If a communication channel is available, any updates from remote locations will be retrieved and handed to MultiSite for processing.  Any files prepared by MultiSite will be uploaded for retrieval by DataX at the relevant remote locations.