Feature Spotlight: What is BPM, and What Does it Mean for Unified Commerce?

December 17, 2019

Our Unified Commerce Cloud platform, with microservices framework, offers commerce and store operations professionals a wide array of tools to get their work done more quickly and efficiently: an eCommerce solution with a drag-and-drop site builder, intelligent distributed order routing, AI-powered personalization, in-store solutions for sales and fulfillment associates, and more.

By bringing these best-in-class solutions together, we enable a unified approach to commerce that empowers commerce teams to curate seamless shopping experiences for their customers.

In this feature spotlight, we’re going to take a close look at a recent feature upgrade to our Unified Commerce Cloud: our user-friendly Business Process Management (BPM) engine. Built at the core of our cloud platform, the BPM engine allows retailers and brands to easily configure and automate service-specific workflows in a matter of clicks. Through its graphic interface, you can model specific use cases by outlining processes step-by-step into a flow chart. This makes it easier for business users to model, monitor, and optimize your processes.

What is BPM?

Broadly speaking, BPM is a methodology of operations management. Organizations use various methods to discover, model, execute, analyze, optimize, and automate business processes. BPM methodology can apply to just about any business-related process (so long as the process is repeatable and scalable) across most industries. In manufacturing, for example, BPM might be used to optimize a product assembly process, while a corporation’s internal finance department might implement BPM to streamline its invoicing and payroll procedures.

In the context of retail and fulfillment operations, BPM methodology is most often applied to the logistics associated with receiving and fulfilling orders. Since each retail organization is different, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to managing BOPIS or store-to-store transfers. To make these processes as dependable and efficient as possible, each organization needs to evaluate, model, and optimize their own unique workflows and processes.

Example of a fulfillment process workflow

What is a BPM engine?

While executing a BPM methodology doesn’t require any particular tools, per se, many organizations rely on some kind of software solution to manage their workflows. These solutions come in a wide variety, from simple to exceedingly complex, built for business users or for highly technical teams. Some solutions are very broad, so that they can be applied to manage operations in an industry-agnostic way, or they can be specialized – that is, designed to manage processes that are specific within a particular industry.

What can retailers do with a BPM engine?

The Business Process Management engine at the core of Kibo’s Unified Commerce Cloud platform is designed with the business user in mind. That means that it’s meant to fulfill the daily needs of ecommerce, store operations, order fulfillment, and supply chain and logistics managers, as they model, test, and optimize the order and fulfillment processes for their organizations.

There’s no such thing as a simple, linear, or universal customer journey. Customers have different habits and preferences, and retailers have different experiences they want to provide. Even the most comprehensive, well thought out order management solution is going to be missing workflows to meet unique or rare uses cases.  That’s where our BPM engine comes in. It allows you to account for customer behavior and deliver differentiated experiences that are true to your brand.

Our BPM engine provides business users with a graphic interface that lets you fully configure their organizations order and fulfillment workflows. With this enhanced control, retailers can create more efficient fulfillment paths and more engaging – and personalized – customer experiences, all without the need for intensive IT resources. Here are just a few areas where our BPM engine empowers retailers.

Custom alerts and notifications

Communication is critical to maintaining customer engagement. From the mundane to the unexpected, you want to keep your customers aware of the status of their order from the moment they click “Buy.” Our BPM lets you trigger text or email notifications – or notify a sales associate to make a phone call – at any point in the customer journey. This can be crucial in out-of-stock scenarios or when there’s a shipping delay on an in-store pickup order. 

Imagine a customer orders a refrigerator online for in-store pickup. With Kibo’s BPM engine, the store operations manager can set up automated alerts that facilitate the order fulfillment process. The customer receives a notification that the order was received. If the refrigerator is out of stock at the nearest location, a second notification is sent telling the customer that a refrigerator will be transferred from another store. When it’s scanned in at the loading dock, the customer receives a text message notifying them that their fridge is ready for pickup. Going a step further, the text might read, “To speed up pickup, reply to this message with the word ‘here’ when you arrive.” When the customer replies, a store associate is notified via mPOS or other device, and they know to wheel the refrigerator to the front of the store for pickup.

White glove fulfillment

There are countless little extras and value adds that retailers can deliver to their customers in the process of fulfilling an order, but without a way to codify those add-ons into the standard operating procedure, it’s difficult to deliver them at scale. Our order management BPM alleviates this by allowing you to easily add these add-ons as steps in the standard fulfillment workflow.

A watch retailer, for example, can add a step to the order fulfillment workflow to make sure that a watch scheduled for delivery is set to its destination’s time zone before it ships. Alternatively, stores selling BBQ grills can add steps to a home delivery workflow to ensure that the delivery truck is stocked with complimentary accessories that can be upsold during delivery.

Without a user-friendly BPM engine, these workflow steps would need to be manually coded into the order management system. That means technical teams (and more time) are required to set them up initially, and changes are more difficult to make down the road. With the Kibo Unified Commerce Cloud, you can design, test, and edit these workflows yourself.

Expect the unexpected

All order management solutions rely on some sort of process management or workflow system that allows fulfillment processes to scale across large organizations. But nobody knows the intricacies of your individual business as well as your internal teams. Even the most seasoned developer in retail tech is going to work in generalities. That means standard workflows designed to fill most needs, under the best case conditions. But not every scenario is a best case, and when things do go wrong, they tend to go wrong in ways that are unique to each organization.

With our BPM engine, you can anticipate the unexpected by building workflows that account for the unique exceptions that are common to your business. You can identify common choke points or breakpoints in your order fulfillment process and design contingency workflows that mitigate their downstream effects. Because it’s easy to use, with an intuitive graphic UI, it’s less burdensome to test and iterate these workflows, so each time the unexpected occurs, you’re more prepared.

Clicks. Not Code.

Our focus at Kibo is to create commerce solutions that are designed with the user in mind. That’s why we built our cloud commerce platform with an industry-leading drag-and-drop ecommerce site builder. And it’s the principle behind our intuitive BPM engine. Because software is great, but it’s only as powerful as the people using it. Our “clicks, not code” philosophy is about empowering commerce teams to perform at their highest level, to have greater control over their operations, and to do more in less time.