Multichannel business managers often express the desire for a single system or software package capable of managing all areas of the enterprise. Since years, ERP software has been in existence.
Because the multichannel phenomenon–traditional brick-and-mortar businesses reaching into direct marketing, and traditional direct-to-customer companies developing brick-and-mortar stores as well as a Web presence–is so recent, it has in many cases outstripped the ability of software vendors to keep pace.
A single computer system can control all areas of a business, including inventory, orders, customers, and items. This makes sense because it allows for greater collaboration between channels and maximizes customer experience. Unfortunately, it has been difficult to find and implement such a solution.
Two ways have been common for the push to offer a multichannel solution: ERP vendors that were founded in manufacturing have attempted to create functionality to meet the needs of multichannel businesses.
Existing niche vendors operating in direct-to-customer and retail markets are looking to expand their product lines to be more like ERPs. Both of these approaches have had limited success. In general, niche solutions or best-of breed solutions are better suited for more complex environments. ERP solutions work well in broad, but less complex, environments.