Multi-Channel System

Overview

A sales channel is the entity that defines a line of business, taking "line of business" to mean each of the segments into which turnover is to be separated. The multi-channel system is the mechanism for classifying the shopping processes generated in a Commerce through the different channels it has in place. For the mechanism to be effective, all sales must be assigned to a channel. Each channel symbolizes a line of business, which will be defined by the configuration of the channel. Channels cannot be selected: the settings of the user browsing the Commerce will trigger one channel or another, according to the way each of them is configured.

The channel triggers invoicing in a particular currency because it is the feature that enables the invoicing company, subtracts stock from particular warehouses and determines whether the goods can be sent or not, and enables specific pick-up points. It is therefore the key part of the shopping process and you must take particular care over how you configure it.

Configuration

The Commerce must have at least one active channel defined. A channel is related to the following elements:

  • Warehouses

  • Physical locations

  • Invoicing companies

Channels must therefore have at least one warehouse linked to them, and stock placed under one channel can only be supplied by the linked warehouses. Channels can also have physical locations, and only those of the channel assigned will be those enabled in the shopping process as pick-up and return points or sites that can be found on a map. Channels must have at least one invoicing company, which means only the companies in the channel assigned will be enabled in the shopping process.

As warehouses are grouped in logistic centers (see Warehouses and Logistic Centers) and these are the entities that determine the source of the shipments, and therefore shipping costs, the channel is, to a great extent, what decides the shipping source because it enables the warehouse in the logistic center.

Likewise, as it is the channel that enables the company and the company decides the accounting currency (see Invoicing Companies and Multi-Currency Accounting), the channel is what decides the accounting currency.

To automatically assign the channel to a shopping process, the system analyses the following set of criteria:

  • User-agent (property of the browser or web client used)

  • Device (property of the browser or web client used), whether mobiles, tablets or computers

  • Operating system (property of the browser or web client used); values can be Unknown, Windows, Linux, Android, MacOS, Symbian or BlackBerry

  • Referer (property of the browser or web client used)

  • Affiliate (property of the Commerce)

  • AppID (property of the Commerce)

  • Domain (property of the Commerce)

  • User group (property of the Commerce)

Each channel can have more than one criterion defined; the values of these criteria must be unique. Imagine that you have two channels, CH1 and CH2. You link CH1 to the user group with the value "VIP" and CH2 to the user group with the value "B2B". The system will assign channel CH1 to users who belong to the "VIP" user group, and channel CH2 to users who belong to the "B2B" user group.

Configuration by Area

In the channel you can also define an area of influence, i.e. a set of geographical areas where the channel operates. As the warehouse has an area of influence determined by the logistic center, if it is incompatible with that of the channel, the warehouse is invalidated within the channel and cannot supply stock.

This area of influence also affects the invoicing company. As the invoicing company can have an area of influence, which is the set of geographical areas where the invoicing company operates, if it is incompatible with that of the channel, the invoicing company is invalidated within the channel.

The same happens with physical locations: as the physical location can have an area of influence, i.e. the set of geographical areas where the physical location operates, if it is incompatible with that of the channel, the physical location is invalidated within the channel.

Moreover, configuration by area is another criterion for selecting the channel in itself; for example, by country (France would be one channel and Spain another). Imagine you create two channels: CH1 and CH2. Geographical area G1 is linked to CH1 and geographical area G2 is linked to CH2. The system will assign channel CH1 to a user who belongs to area G1, and channel CH2 to a user who belongs to area G2.

Compatibility Between Assignment Criteria

Channels can be created with one or more criteria. When the system has to assign a particular channel, it checks that all the criteria defined for this channel are met.

As all criteria are compatible with one another, a channel CH1 can be defined to include a user-agent and a domain, and a second channel, CH2, to include a device and an operating system. In this case, the system will assign CH1 if the user-agent and domain combination matches that defined in CH1 or will assign CH2 if the user's device and operating system combination matches that defined for CH2. If a user meets all four criteria, either of the two channels would be valid; if this happens, the system will assign the first channel that meets the criteria, which in this case is CH1.

Once the assignment criteria have determined the channel, this can no longer be changed. This aims to avoid any unexpected behavior, bearing in mind that the channel influences critical elements like warehouses and invoicing companies.

Exceptions and Customizations by Channel

The channel is related to other elements, which makes it possible to configure forced behaviors and exceptions.

Relationship between Channel and Warehouse

The relationship between channel and warehouse allows you to configure some features of the warehouse and add other new ones when in combination with a particular channel:

  • Compensation days can be set in the relationship between channel and warehouse; these will replace those defined for the warehouse when the channel and the warehouse operate together.

  • You can define a priority in the relationship between channel and warehouse. This will affect the order in which stock goes out: the system will always follow the order from the lowest to the highest value specified in the Priority property. Therefore, among all the warehouses in the channel, the system will first take stock from the warehouse set as the first one (e.g. with priority 1). If there is not enough stock in this warehouse, the system will look in the one set as the second (e.g. with priority 2), and so on. You can therefore specify, for example, that a particular warehouse should be the first to take stock from when working with a particular channel, or the last when working with a different channel.

Relationship between Channel and Physical Location

The relationship between channel and physical location allows you to add certain features to the location, plus restrictive behaviors when the location is combined with a particular channel:

  • You can define whether the physical location acts as pick-up point.

  • You can define whether the physical location acts as return point.

  • You can define a distance radius around the physical location, and geographical locations within the radius will depend on that location.

    Example: You have a pick-up point with a distance radius of 5 km. If a user’s address is within this radius, the system will tell them to collect their order at this pick-up point.

  • In general, both the channel and the physical location can have an area of influence. As mentioned above, this means that if the zone of the physical location is not compatible with that of the channel, the physical location is invalidated for this channel and therefore, when the channel and the physical location work together, the system will only accept geographical areas common to both.
    Bearing this in mind, you can define zone restrictions in the relationship between channel and physical location, which will limit these allowed geographical areas even more.

    Example: You have a channel CH1 which operates throughout France, and a physical location PH1 which acts as a pick-up point for an area of influence which is also France. If a user's address is in Marseille or Paris, the system will tell them to pick up their order at PH1. If you restrict the relationship between CH1 and P1 to the Paris area only, this means that when CH1 and P1 operate together, the system will tell a user in Paris to collect their order at PH1, while the user in Marseille will have no pick-up points available. This means that even though CH1 and PH1 work separately for the whole of France, when they operate together this is only for a specific area.

Relationship between Channel and Invoicing Company

The relationship between channel and invoicing company allows you to set up restrictive behaviors and exceptions in accounting currencies:

  • In general, both the channel and the invoicing company can have an area of influence. As mentioned above, this means that if the zone of the invoicing company is not compatible with that of the channel, the invoicing company is invalidated within the channel. Therefore, to be valid for a channel, the invoicing company must have geographical areas that match or are included within those of the channel. Bearing this in mind, you can define zone restrictions in the relationship between channel and invoicing company, which will limit these supported geographical areas even more.

    Example: You have a channel CH1 which operates in China, with invoicing companies IC1 and IC2 whose area of influence is also China. If a user's address is in Beijing or Hong Kong, the system will say that invoicing must be from IC1 (supposing that IC1 has a higher priority than IC2) in both cases. If you restrict the relationship between CH1 and IC1 to the Hong Kong area only, users in Hong Kong must be invoiced from IC1, while users in Beijing must be invoiced from IC2.

  • In the relationship between a channel and an invoicing company (with linked currencies), exceptions to some of these currencies can be set. This allows you to restrict accounting currencies in the event that a channel and an invoicing company work together.

    Example: You have a channel CH1 which is linked to invoicing company IC1. IC1 invoices in renminbi, Hong Kong dollars and Taiwanese dollars; in the relationship between CH1 and IC1 you define exceptions for Hong Kong dollars and Taiwanese dollars. This means that when IC1 works with any other channel, it can invoice in renminbi, Hong Kong dollars and Taiwanese dollars, but when IC1 works with CH1 it can only invoice in renminbi (as you have excluded Hong Kong dollars and Taiwanese dollars).

  • In a zone restriction between a channel and an invoicing company (with linked currencies), exceptions to some of these currencies can be set. This restricts the currencies of invoicing companies by geographical location.

    Example: You have a channel CH1 with invoicing companies IC1 and IC2 which operate in China and invoice in renminbi, Hong Kong dollars and Taiwanese dollars. If you restrict the relationship between CH1 and IC1 to the Hong Kong area only, users in Hong Kong must be invoiced from IC1; and they can also be invoiced in renminbi, Hong Kong dollars and Taiwanese dollars. If in the restriction between CH1 and IC1 you define currency exceptions for renminbi and Taiwanese dollars, users in Hong Kong must be invoiced from IC1, but only in Hong Kong dollars.

Three-way Relationships

In certain cases, relationships between a channel and other elements allow for a relationship with a third element:

  • A relationship between channel and warehouse can also have a relationship with a physical location. This indicates that the location, configured as a pick-up or return point, has its own warehouse. Therefore, in the event that an order is to be collected at a pick-up point with its own warehouse, the stock to fulfil this order will in the first instance come from that warehouse.

  • When the delivery of an order is to a collection point, you can define the Shipments for transfer feature (you need to create shipments for internal material transfers). This indicates that the units that are extracted from the warehouse of origin with this active characteristic must be transferred to the pick-up point and, therefore, shipments are generated. If the origin warehouse does not have this feature active it means that, in case it is necessary to move material, Commerce will manage it by other means that do not require the explicit generation of shipments. Otherwise, if the warehouse of origin is not that own of the pick-up point, the system will generate the shipments necessary to send the extracted units. The costs derived from the transport will be calculated taking into account that the origin will be the logistics center to which the origin warehouse belongs, but the destination will be the pick-up point.

    Example: You have a P1 pick-up point with its own warehouse, but insufficient stock or, for simplicity, a P1 pick-up point without a linked warehouse. To complete the order, the system determines that you must extract stock from warehouse A1, which has the Shipments for transfer feature active. To fulfill an order that the user would pick up in P1, the products of the order must be transported from A1 to P1 and the costs of this transport will be reflected by the system in the purchase process (of course, these costs can be 0 if so configured in the transport type that moves material between the logistic center of A1 and P1). If, on the other hand, A1 does not have this feature active, it means that Commerce will move the material from A1 to P1 without the need to create shipments or register this action in the order.

  • A relationship between channel and physical location can also have a relationship with an invoicing company. This means that for a particular channel and physical location a change of invoicing company can be forced.

    Example: You need a pick-up point to invoice the orders collected there. To do this, you must link the relationship between channel and physical location (acting as the pick-up point) to an invoicing company other than the one linked to the channel. This particular invoicing company may have its own tax information and even its own invoicing series.