Monday Mar 21, 2016

Perry Ellis International: Steps to a 6-Month Enterprise Implementation

Perry Ellis International executed an enterprise upgrade of Oracle Retail Merchandising (RMS), Retail Price Management (RPM), Allocation, Retail Sales Audit (ReSA), Store Inventory Management (SIM) and Point-of-Service in just six months with BTM Global. This success story represents a trend we're seeing across our customer base as we position customers to speed time to value and deliver on the promise of commerce anywhere. So what's the secret sauce? In a recent webcast, Sandeep Baghel, director of retail systems at Perry Ellis, shared essential steps to success: 

1. Executive Sponsorship. Defining the vision and mission of an enterprise project is essential to obtaining buy-in across the organization. At Perry Ellis the executive leadership defined the objective clearly and simply to "be wherever their customers want them to be." That commitment required an upgrade to existing merchandising and stores POS systems to not only deliver commerce anywhere but to do it efficiently and profitably. Customer's are not going to tell you what they want directly; you have to anticipate expectations otherwise they will go elsewhere. Perry Ellis understands that inventory transparency and availability is the linchpin in a successful commerce anywhere strategy and getting ahead of customer expectations. Without one view of inventory you simply cannot offer your customers a premium brand experience that seamlessly flows from online to in-store or make smart and timely business decisions. Merchandising is the system that ensures a consistent and accurate view of product, price and place across the enterprise and therefore is critical to delivering an efficient, profitable omnichannel experience.

2. Clean Slate. RMS is the heart of the enterprise and whether you're upgrading an existing system or completely replacing legacy technology, now is the time to take the opportunity to review all your integrations, customization and processes to identify opportunities for optimization. Prior to even starting the RFP process Perry Ellis assembled all documents housed in their document management system, identified information holes and took the time to update their documents, integration diagrams and met with business partners to better understand what they were actively using and their future needs.  Fortunately, because this project was an upgrade (merchandising 12.0 to 14.0), the existing customizations on the merchandising side were limited to one. Following this vanilla path and leveraging existing process flows in the Oracle Retail Reference Library allows Perry Ellis to capitalize on new innovations as they are released with little effort which results in better customer experiences and lower total cost of ownership. 

3. Strategic Partner. First and foremost by completing step #2 above Perry Ellis was able to create a very detailed and specific RFP. This removed any ambiguity from the process and enabled the short list of SI's to deliver hyper-focused responses. When selecting the systems integrator Perry Ellis paid careful attention to partners that had demonstrated experience with technical upgrades and innovative ideas that ultimately would result in the best use of investment. After six RFPs and three face-to-face meetings they selected a partner that presented an innovation approach to conversion with the lowest downtime during cutover, was a true upgrade approach (versus a re-implementation) resulting in lower TCO, and demonstrated experience with both merchandising and stores systems. 

4. Core Team. The size of your team will be relevant to the size of your organization. With ~70 stores in the US Perry Ellis defined their core team to include seven individuals that had deep experience with the business and technology systems. However, over the course of the project that team grew to upwards of 50 individuals when needed. To keep costs low, Perry Ellis minimized the time required for the SI to be onsite relying on video conferencing to facilitate collaboration with both on- and offshore resources. 

5. Testing. Perry Ellis had successfully hit all their milestones and was ready to go live in October as planned. However, to mitigate any risk of interruption during the holiday season Perry Ellis took the opportunity to postpone their go-live and conduct additional testing. Again, going back to step #2 Perry Ellis had reviewed their testing scripts and made updates accordingly. This pre-work enabled them to step through testing in a methodical manner without the use of additional testing tools. In hindsight, the additional testing time uncovered some small bugs and also gave them the opportunity to conduct additional user acceptance training that ultimately resulted in a very high level of confidence with both IT and the business and no business interruption at go-live.

Interested in learning more? Join us at Oracle Industry Connect this April where you'll have the opportunity to leverage the collective experience and knowledge of the global Oracle Retail community. We're honored to have 30 retailers take the stage and share their experience on everything from merchandising to supply chain. View the detailed retail #OracleIC16 program

Special Offer: Fast, Cost-Effective Path to Cloud-Based Ecommerce

Oracle Commerce Consulting has announced a special offer to implement a fully functional ecommerce site on Oracle Commerce Cloud at a fixed price of $150,000 and with a start-to-launch implementation period of three months. The offer is aimed at mid-market direct-to-consumer brands that want to move from an on-premise or conventional hosted solution to Oracle Commerce Cloud in a cost-effective and expedient fashion, yet with the quality and backing of Oracle. Oracle Commerce Consulting has a long track record of working with retailers such as Kohl’s, Tesco, and Eddie Bauer, and now brings those credentials and expertise to bear in Oracle Commerce Cloud.

Templated Approach Enables Rapid Implementation

To facilitate speed of implementation, cost-effectiveness, and quality, Oracle Commerce Consulting has developed a template service for Oracle Commerce Cloud. On the front end are about 25 different widgets that enable customers to display products and enhanced navigation features within their website.

For example, a set of faceted navigation widgets help make the site more navigable by users performing searches, with an eye to making it operate like some of the more sophisticated on-premise solutions that use Guided Search. The solution features built-in and tested integration with the Jagged Peak order management system as well as integration with Google Analytics, Live Chat, Easy Store Locator, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. On the payment management side, it includes pre-configured, tested integration with CyberSource and PayPal.

Easy Transition to the Cloud

The vast majority of retail websites, especially for mid-market brands, are still using some form of on-premise or traditional hosted model. Oracle Commerce Cloud offers retailers a fast, affordable way to realize the operational and upgrade benefits of moving to the cloud, and eliminates the need to make a capital investment in an ecommerce solution.

Implementation of the new site by Oracle Commerce Consulting goes through four phases, beginning with discovery, which involves creative design to help the client understand how they want their site to look. The user interface is designed according to that creative direction, followed by integration with outside services, and testing/launch – all scripted into a three-month engagement.

Oracle Commerce Consulting anticipates that many customers will want a certain amount of enhancement and tailoring beyond the templated implementation. “We welcome the opportunity to work with those customers and are well positioned to do so as the factory consulting group for Oracle Commerce” says Oracle Commerce Consulting Director Mark Knisely. “Whether we are building additional integrations or more complex functionality on the User Interface, it will still fit within the same paradigm from a customer perspective, and they get the peace of mind that comes with an Oracle-led implementation.”

To Learn More About the Offer

For more information about Oracle Commerce Cloud and the fixed-price, three-month accelerated implementation from Oracle Commerce Consulting, please review the offer summary sheet, reach out to your Oracle sales representative, or drop an email to OneRetailVoice_ww@Oracle.com.

Wednesday Mar 16, 2016

No Time to Lose: The Power of Omnichannel and Customer Knowledge

Retailers in Latin America seek integrated solutions that get quick results in order to speed up their omnichannel activities

It is impossible to speak about the retail Latin America market as all companies in all countries of the region were at the same stage of development. On the other hand, this heterogeneity offers the possibility of an intense experience exchange among retailers from different sectors and countries.

According to Carlos Victoria, Vice President of Oracle Retail for Latin America, although the scenarios are quite different in region countries, they have many common issues. “Latin American retailers face challenges such as optimizing inventory and anticipating demand, which are basic issues, but that continue to offer opportunities for increasing efficiency”, he said.

The growth of e-commerce and its integration with other sales channels has also been opening up business opportunities, both for Oracle Retail as well as for retailers that get their staff better trained and processes changed in order to get in the top of consumer expectations.

“We have been noticing a continually increasing interest for our e-commerce solutions, as a part of a retail movement to increase revenue, and most of all, to extend the contact base with customers”, says Victoria. “In the last two years, omnichannel has become relevant around the world, and with the reach we already have on a global level, customers request support to help them improve this cycle and capitalize much more quickly on its benefits”, he explains. It is a little shortsighted to see ecommerce as a one channel more to generate new revenue.

The best examples are those who understand that e-commerce and mobile applications are an additional omnichannel point of contact, to maintain in an integrated way the consumer experience with the store. The most important thing is to attract the customer to the physical store to complete your experience and your purchase.

Know Your Customers 

It is proven that consumers that interacts through multiple channels plus the physical store is a customer whose average sale is higher. A customer who starts their online interaction or in an application and completes the transaction in the physical store, just add other items of physical store. The key is how to attract the customer to the physical store. Oracle Retail can help retailers through science and technology better understand this client with Oracle Retail Customer Engagement Cloud Service, allowing promotions and concrete and custom actions that attract the customer back to the physical store.

The need to increase speed of implementing and obtaining results in order to optimize return on investments has brought on changes to the structure of the solutions and market approach. “Today, our solutions focus on practical and concrete issues, so that the retailer can implement and obtain a more appealing ROI”, according to the executive. This approach involves shorter cycles of solution implementation; and allow quickly and appealing results, turning business more attractive to the shareholders. 

Drive Incremental Revenue and Profitability 

One example are loyalty programs that for many years was considered a great opportunity for retail, but until now with intangible results. “That is because our competitors were concentrating on completely transforming companies, introducing impressive monolithic CRM solutions without worrying about retail strategy. Why did the company want a loyalty program? What was the purpose? This question was not usually asked”, Victoria recalls. “Our approach is more consultative. We seek to understand what the intention of retail is with the loyalty program, and then build the ideal solution. As a result, companies have found ways of making their programs more appealing to consumers, who notice this personalized and relevant attention and return to the sales outlet to buy more. “By working with retail, we create solutions that strengthen their relationship with customers and accelerate return on investments”, explained the executive.

In order to speed up ROI for customers, Oracle Retail has invested in cloud services and embedded science in retail solutions. “The idea is to provide solutions based on the scientific analysis of the information and that through alerts and exceptions support decisions that should be taken by the executive, in a relatively simple but robust way”. These insight are now available as cloud services for quick and easy deployment. 


Our global customer community will convene in Orlando, FL on April 11-13, 2016 at the Oracle Industry Connect. We will feature over 30 global retail case studies talking about omnichannel success including Big 5 Sporting Goods, Decathlon, Falabella, Livraria Cultura, Kohls, Nordstrom, PacSun and several others.  

Resources:

Global Research: Retail Without Limits - A Modern Commercial Society

Drive Incremental Revenue and Profitability with Oracle Retail Customer Engagement Cloud Services

Gain Visibility into Consumer Preference with Oracle Retail Customer Insights Cloud Service

Friday Mar 11, 2016

Accelerated Implementations: Take the Guesswork Out of Clearance Pricing Strategies

Quickly replacing ad-hoc markdown procedures with a predictive, fact-based software tool benefits margins, sell-through, and operational efficiency.

For retailers, the need to mark down and clear out underperforming inventory is a fact of daily life. The overall goal is to clear merchandise out on schedule—before the season is over, before the end of the quarter, or whatever the deadline might be—while maintaining as much margin as possible. The depth and timing of markdowns is critical yet easy to get wrong. If you price an item too low and too early, you lose margin. If you price it too high for too long, the result is lost revenue and leftover unsalable merchandise.

Given the importance of the markdown process, a surprising number of retailers take a rather unstructured approach, basing their strategy on a mixture of arbitrary, ad-hoc procedures and gut feelings. Some use a time-based approach such as: if an item has been on the floor for 45 days, take 30% off; if it has been on the floor for 100 days, take 70% off. Others combine age of merchandise with seasonal considerations and sometimes emotional attachments to a particular product line or even a particular product.

Optimization Solutions Predict Success for Retailers

There is a better way to approach markdowns. Based on the results experienced by our customers, particularly in fashion and apparel, the replacement of an intuitive, time-based approach to markdowns with a predictive, fact-based tool such as the Oracle Clearance Optimization Engine (COE) can, in a reasonably short period of time, yield a 3-5% increase in gross margins and a 5-20% increase in sell-through. It can also streamline the workload of merchants, department managers, and other decision-makers by generating a markdown strategy—calibrated to the organization’s structure and KPIs—for every product in inventory, down to the SKU level.

Based on current and historical sales and inventory data, COE analyzes every item that is eligible during the optimization run. It eliminates guesswork by determining the most profitable depth and timing of the markdown and delivering the recommended strategy. With the strategy comes a complete set of analytics, so users at every level can understand exactly why COE is making a given recommendation. This is all done automatically, based on your markdown cadence. A theoretical user would come in on Monday morning and find a current set of markdown recommendations.

Implementation Barriers Are Eliminated

COE has recently been enhanced and is now a powerful consultation and software tool for item planners. The accelerated implementation model can be fully deployed in 14 weeks. Oracle Retail Consulting (ORC) has developed a proprietary Accelerated Clearance Optimization (ACOE) methodology and uses an experience-based, prescriptive approach along with configurable pre-built templates. This delivery approach is how ORC enables profitable results in less than four months. Prerequisites include a record of sales and inventory data for three years, at the item level, and the organization’s location/merchandise hierarchy.

The Oracle team will need the following information from the retailer in order to implement COE:

· An understanding of what the retailer would like the markdown process to look like, to ensure that this vision is compatible with ACOE’s prescriptive approach

· Who the project champion will be, on the business side of the house

· Who will lead any required internal change management

· Confirmation that in-house technical resources will be available to extract necessary data, and then integrate COE with the execution system that will be used

Increase Margins with Oracle Retail’s Optimization Solution

Given the realities of today’s ultracompetitive market, the ability to protect margins by scientifically managing the markdown and clearance process represents a significant competitive advantage for retailers. To discuss the possibility of implementing the Oracle Clearance Optimization Engine in your own organization, contact your sales representative or send an email to OneRetailVoice_ww@Oracle.com.

5 Benefits of Implementing a Modern Fashion Planning Solution


Fashion retailers have to be where their customers are at every point in the shopping journey. It’s all about direct retailing — in-app, on Pinterest and FaceBook, from the website or inside the store — the exact point where each unique shopper makes her (or his) purchase decisions. Furthermore, when merchants show up at the right direct retailing point, they have to be there with fresh looks and engaging brand experiences. This requires a modern planning solution, which offers infinite benefits for retailers and their customers. Here are our top 5: 

  1. Facilitate a distributed and connected workforce. Fashion consumers are passionate about discovering new looks and the expectation is that fashion retailers will offer localized assortments that are fresh and exciting. This requires boots on the ground, and not necessarily in HQ's backyard. A distributed workforce needs centralized data, easy access and responsive systems to enable productivity wherever your talent may be. Modern planning solutions, particularly cloud-based technology, allow retailers to source talent closer to their consumers and their suppliers.
  2. Increase productivity with reduced headcount.  The retail marketplace is competitive; from online pureplays eating into traditional retailers' business to consumers' insatiable appetite for new, more and different...retailers are challenged to achieve more with less in all aspects of the business. From  increasing the number of plans per year to turning inventory faster -- more is more in the case of a retailer's time. Unfortunately less is more when it comes to resources. One of the key areas retailers can squeeze more productivity is in data management and analysis. By leaving the number crunching to modern planning solutions retailers can focus on the artful tasks of supplier negotiation and developing exciting looks for their brand.
  3. Simplify the process. If your team is using spreadsheets stop reading this blog post now and contact us: oneretailvoice_ww@oracle.com. Seriously. Manually comparing data from merchandising, store operations and inventory allocation is a waste of time and talent. Real-time, accurate reporting from all the key sources throughout the retail enterprise leads to fewer out-of-stocks and overstocks, reduced expenses transferring items from one store or region to another, increases overall revenue and creates new opportunities to grow.
  4. Reduce inventory. The past no longer represents the future in more cases than not. Your buyers' path to purchase looks more like a scatter plot than a pattern and how that compares to previous years is increasingly less reliable. Modern solutions seamlessly connect data silos, giving retailers access to a common operational forecast to drive smart business decisions.
  5. Improve personalization. Consumer preferences shift constantly and this is particularly true in fashion. Keeping customers engaged with your brand is a must and drawing out cues from customer interactions with you brand can lead you in some exciting directions. It's more likely than not that your customers are browsing for inspiration online; so why not leverage this data to glean insights into demand on everything from silhouettes to colors? You website search data is a treasure trove. Use it. 

Regardless of where you are in your adoption of planning solutions and process, if you're looking to optimize efficiency and enable your team to do more with less Oracle Industry Connect 2016 is the best opportunity for you to leverage the collective knowledge and experience of the global retail community. With 30 speakers from 20+ unique retailers #OracleIC16 is designed, developed and delivered by retailers, for retailers. Customers joining us this year to talk planning and optimization include lifestyle retailer lululemon athletica, brazilian shoe retailer Paqueta and department store leader Kohl's. Join the conversation April 11-14 in Orlando, FL. Learn more.

For more insights and recommendations on how to realize the top 5 benefits of a modern fashion planning solution check out: Fashion Planning in a Direct Retail World

Tuesday Mar 08, 2016

Growing Retailers Get Best-in-Class Solution with Merchandise Financial Planning Cloud Service

Heightened operational visibility and control are never more important than during the push for growth. When expanding, a retailer’s financial and merchandising teams require solutions that provide real-time visibility into operations and the tools to manage more predictable and consistent business results. However, when niche retailers grow their store base or expand to new markets, that growth often precedes any kind of merchandising or financial systems upgrade. The existing proprietary or “off the shelf” spreadsheets and ad-hoc solutions can begin to show signs of strain well before they can be replaced.

To give retailers more immediate access to best-in-class solutions designed to help them navigate these critical junctures in their growth, Oracle has launched Oracle Retail Merchandise Financial Planning Cloud Service as part of the recent Oracle Retail Release 15. Retail companies use Oracle Retail planning and optimization solutions to identify opportunities for more-profitable sales and margin planning combined with targeted inventory investments. This collaborative approach is critical to planning merchandise operations across disparate channels and brands. These solutions also help ensure that day-to-day merchandising, inventory, and financial decisions align with overarching business objectives.

Oracle Cloud Solution Lets Retailers Pick and Choose Features

With Oracle Retail cloud services, retailers access world-class capabilities in solutions that are serviced and supported by Oracle, rather than by expanding and staffing an in-house IT operation. Since Oracle Retail Merchandise Financial Planning Cloud Service is a true cloud solution, retailers can shape it for their business needs and pay for just what they use.

Ready-to-go configurations include retail or cost-plus accounting methods, global currency planning and location planning, as well as wholesale/franchise planning. Oracle Retail Merchandise Financial Planning Cloud Service is the first merchandise financial planning solution provided in seven (7) languages for global operations. And to keep pace with today’s high-speed business environment, it can be deployed in weeks or days rather than months.

Retailers Share Their Success

Oracle has more licensed customers using its merchandise financial planning solutions than any other provider. These successful retailers include charming charlie, Deckers Brands, Groupe Dynamite, Kohl’s, lululemon, Nahdi Medical Group, Nordstrom, Perry Ellis International, Valentino, and Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.

“To grow with retail, we want to have the best IT systems available to support our business,” said Sandeep Baghel, Director of Retail Systems, Perry Ellis International, in a 2015 interview with Oracle. “We are working through multiple channels, and Oracle provides a platform that can seamlessly integrate those. We want to be available to customers wherever they want us to be.”

To delve deeper into the specifics of Oracle Retail Merchandise Financial Planning Cloud Service, check out:

  • The website page, complete with product screen shots, reading material, customer assets, and related solution links
Join us at Oracle Industry Connect to hear lululemon speak about visual line planning with Oracle Retail Merchandise Financial Planning, Oracle Retail Assortment Planning, and Oracle Retail Item Planning.

Monday Mar 07, 2016

30 Retailer Speakers Confirmed for Oracle Retail Industry Connect 2016

We are honored and privileged to work with 30 customer speakers from 23 global retailers. The schedule will be set this week and published on the Oracle Industry Connect Website. We hope you will join us to learn from this dynamic line up of insightful speakers.

Who's Who (alpha by company)

Paul Sperling, Director of IT at Retail, A’GACI
Nick Oswald, Senior Manager - Demand Planning Operations, Best Buy
Rikke Alderson, Senior Digital Marketing Executive, Big 5 Sporting Goods
Chad Petersen, eCommerce Director, Carolina.com
Eddy Lecointe, Omnicommerce & Digital Transformation Director, Decathlon
Bryan Podgorny, Manager, Global Store Operations at Deckers Outdoor Corporation
Julius Odian, Vice President Business Development, Falabella
Fernando Jacome, CIO, Corporación GPF
ArMand Nelson, Director IT, Gander Mountain
Carissa Rollins, CIO and Executive Vice President, Gander Mountain
Paul Lamoureux, Senior Director, Enterprise Architecture, Gap Inc
Connie Santilli, Vice President Corporate IT and Strategy, Gap Inc.
Amy Stanberry, Vice President, Enterprise Systems & Strategy, Gap Inc.
Rick Whicker, Senior Director of Information Technology, Gap Inc.
Jesus de Francisco Garcia, CIO IT Director, Livraria Cultura
John King, Vice President - IT Merchandising & Product Development, Kohl's Department Stores
Mario Castano, Vice President, E-Commerce, Lenox
Jason Richard, CIO, Lucky Brands
Mark Baxendale, Senior Vice President, Planning & Allocation, lululemon athletica
N.C. Nagarajan, Director, Design, Merchandise Planning and Allocation Systems, lululemon athletica
Andrew Anosenko, COO, SPAR RUSSIA (SPAR TULA)
Cory Day, Sr Business Analyst, Pacific Sunwear
Eduardo Smaniotto, Director of Retail, Paquetá The Shoe Company
Daniel Moure, CMO, Pureformulas.com
Jackie Johnson, BT Business Partner, Red Wing Shoes
Marc Kermish, CIO, Red Wing Shoes
Mike Austin, Director, Ecommerce, Rooms to Go
Keith Costello, North America Consumer Facing Lead, The Estee Lauder Company
Bill Boezinger, Systems Manager, The Walt Disney Company
Bob Krohn, Director Merchandise Info. Systems, The Walt Disney Company


We are thrilled with the progress on the program so far. We have a few more confirmations expected this week. Please confirm your participation in the retail program today by registering at Oracle Industry Connect. Attendance is limited to retailers and our program sponsors to ensure that the focus remains on retailers learning from one another. We will also have participation from key industry analysts and publications in Orlando.

I hope you will join us. Send me a direct message if you have any questions.


Thursday Mar 03, 2016

Speed, Security, and Best Practices in the Cloud: Oracle Releases Market-Leading Retail Demand Forecasting Solution

Oracle Retail Demand Forecasting enables retailers to accurately and efficiently maintain a single projection of forecasted demand across all Commerce Anywhere operations, increasing revenues and margins while lowering overhead through reduced inventory. Now, this market-leading solution is available to retailers as a cloud service, providing implementation speed and lower total cost of ownership.

The ability to accurately project and manage inventory requirements has become significantly more important in today’s Commerce Anywhere environment. It has also become significantly more difficult, due to ever-changing assortments, promotional tactics, and evolving flexibility in points of fulfillment. In this environment, retailers need stronger forecasting tools and optimization science than the spreadsheets and ad-hoc mechanisms still often being used.

Market-Leading Capabilities with Simplified Approach and Lower Cost

Oracle Retail Demand Forecasting is used by hundreds of retailers around the world to accurately predict consumer demand. The new Oracle Retail Demand Forecasting Cloud Service delivers science-based demand forecasting to an even wider community of retailers at a price point and in a delivery package that will enable them to quickly take advantage of a proven, market-tested solution that produces significant operational and economic benefits.

“Inventory is the number-one cost center for any retailer. By having an accurate forecast, retailers, now even mid-tier and growing retailers, can make certain they will strike the right balance of inventory levels to meet their customers’ needs, while minimizing the effects of excess inventory, such as markdowns and wastage,” says Mike Johnson, Oracle Retail Solution Director, Supply Chain.

Speed to Value and Ease of Implementation

Oracle Retail Demand Forecasting Cloud Service provides high speed to value by leveraging the operational advantages of cloud technology. Retailers can have the forecasting tool up and running, and their users proficient with it, in a matter of 12 to 16 weeks. To facilitate ease of implementation, the solution is prepackaged with a best practice-driven workflow and the best in retail science, requiring very little configuration.

With accurate product demand projections, Oracle Retail Demand Forecasting Cloud Service enhances the business management and decision-making processes in both planning and execution activities. The service not only streamlines processes but provides actionable insights and a view of customer demand that retailers can drive financial planning, purchasing, allocation, or replenishment decisions from.

To delve deeper into the specifics of Oracle Retail Demand Forecasting Cloud Service, check out:

You may also be interested in learning about our Retail Reference Library, a collection of implementation information for Oracle Retail customers and partners, featuring the power of:

  • 12,500 business partners +
  • 5,750 customers in 96 countries =
  • 681 detailed retail process flows

When you invest in and trust the solutions of Oracle Retail, you buy the power and knowledge of our ecosystem.

Wednesday Mar 02, 2016

Four Reasons to Attend Oracle Retail Industry Connect 2016

This is my favorite time of year. This is the season of the customer.  We are in the process of preparing our community for Oracle Retail Industry Connect, an exclusive retail executive event hosted on April 11-13, 2016 in Orlando, Florida. I have the privilege of talking to customers nearly every day about their experience with Oracle Retail. I learn something new everyday. The people I work with are the reason I love my job.

We are excited to host this unique and exclusive gathering at our valued customer Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. Oracle Industry Connect brings the Oracle Retail community together to collectively solve the complex business problems of the dynamic retail industry.

Here are some reasons you won’t want to miss this event:

#1 For Retailers, By Retailers: The Oracle Industry Connect retail program is predominantly delivered by retailers, for retailers. The sessions highlight how global retail companies of all scopes and sizes are embracing technology, adopting cloud services, and executing commerce anywhere to address business pains and solve complex problems.

#2 Vision, Innovation, and Execution: In the last 12 months, Oracle Retail has launched 16 new cloud services of our retail applications. Come to learn about the latest developments in our roadmap and explore the innovations in our solutions. Begin to map your journey to the cloud while protecting your existing investment.

#3 Applicable Learning: Each session is designed for peer knowledge sharing with tangible strategies, best practices, and recommendations that you can apply to your business. Learn from retailers of all segments and sizes including A’GACI, Big 5 Sporting Goods, Decathlon, Falabella, Gap, Inc., Lenox, Lucky Brand, lululemon, Neiman Marcus, PacSun, Red Wing Shoes and more. View the retail program.

#4 Relationship Building: Mix and mingle with 275+ retail executives, 25 of our best implementation partners, and Oracle Retail experts from around the world. Invest in new contacts and relationships that can help you succeed on your journey toward commerce anywhere. Each year we continue to enhance the networking opportunities. This year we add Oracle Retail User Group pre-conference sessions, athletic endeavors to like yoga with lululemon ambassadors and a fun run sponsored by Big 5 Sporting goods.

I love the open and provocative discussions that happen in our retail community in the welcoming environment of this event. I would be happy to make introductions across the community of retailers, partners, analysts, press friends, and Oracle experts. This is where the magic happens. After all, isn't that what Disney is known for?

I am personally very proud of the heritage and history of this event. We began the program in 2006 as CrossTalk. By 2009, we evolved the CrossTalk program to be 90% delivered by retailers, for retailers. The event grew by word of mouth over the years, thanks to the willingness of our customers to share their successes, challenges, lessons learned, and triumphs. Our customers provide tremendous value to one another in this forum. We are lucky to work with some of the most innovative retailers on the planet. Due to this value, the event has been adopted more widely and expanded to foster communities across Communications, Hospitality, Financial Services, Utilities, Health Sciences, Primavera, and Education as Oracle Industry Connect.

I sincerely hope you will join us. Please confirm your participation in the retail program today by registering at Oracle Industry Connect. Attendance is limited to retailers and our program sponsors to ensure that the focus remains on retailers learning from one another. If you have any questions, send me a personal email rose.spicer@oracle.com.


Friday Feb 26, 2016

I Want to Know Everything About Your Kale Salad

I may be in a very small category of individuals here but I love grocery shopping. To me it's is not a chore, it's an opportunity to explore and find new ways to experience nutrition and share that with others (it helps that I like to experiment in the kitchen). 

This affinity however comes with high expectations. The store must be spotless, more so than any other retail experience. The layout should be efficient but also offer the opportunity for discovery. Shelves should be flush with myriad product facings and the fresh zones must be impeccable. I want local, I want foreign, I want pleasant and informed staff and I don't want to spends hundred a week to get fresh, organic, healthy food. Oh, and I want to know down to the most granular detail what I’m eating because it’s my right to know these things.

Although I may be in a small majority when it comes to my love for the weekly grocery jaunt I am definitely not alone in the idea that information is my right as a consumer and absolutely impacts my satisfaction with a brand. According to the  American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI)  consumer satisfaction with grocery retail slipped again this year down 4% from the previous year. That said, there are a select few retailers breaking out of the pack including Wegman's which was the only retailer to improve satisfaction scores year-over-year. According to David VanAmburg, managing director of ACSI, “When consumers put a premium on service and quality, smaller companies often achieve higher customer satisfaction scores, and it’s the smaller independent chains that continue to set the bar for supermarkets.”

Aside from variety and fair prices, consumers are increasingly demanding when it comes to transparency on products. In the case of prepared foods, which is a go-to for many families (and a great opportunity for retailers to establish brand loyalty and stronger margins) accurate labeling is essential. From allergens to nutritional content, consumers want to know what's in the products they are buying and increasingly where the ingredients were sourced. In a recent, somewhat unflattering article from Consumer Reports on the accuracy of prepared food labels, the issue of brand compliance was strongly noted. Although prepared meals do not have the same requirements of other products in terms of nutritional content disclosure, the consumer expectation is that it's available. So why not get ahead and turn it into a promotion of transparency? With the right data and systems in place grocers can offer consumers labeling data in the form of a printed or even smart label via an online catalog or tablet  and/or interactive kiosk. This allows the recipe to remain fluid while providing real time consumer information.

Differentiating the store experience is a key strategy in most grocery environments. Private label and prepared foods are central to this strategy and with that comes risk. The importance of accurate information, particularly in an age where food allergies seem to be increasing faster than we can keep up, is critical to consumer satisfaction, trust and safety. Gluten free, nut free, sugar free, antibiotic free, low sodium, the list goes on and on. This is a big data problem if there ever was one. And all this data must come from the supply chain which can be as close to the store as a local farm or oceans away. Each of these suppliers must provide data on their product(s) which then must make it to the pack of the package. Without centralized data and accurate information this is impossible. 

This is a big challenge for retailers but there are tools available to help aggregate the data, communicate with the supply chain and provide consumers the transparency they want. For more info on this topic, check out: Stay Out of the Headlines: 4 Tips to Protect Your Brand Integrity and don't miss the opportunity to leverage the collective knowledge and experience of the Oracle Retail Community at #OracleIC16 this spring


Thursday Feb 25, 2016

Avoid the Headlines: 4 Tips to Protect Your Brand Integrity

Consumers demand high quality and unique offerings from grocers. These retailers are being asked to expand assortment to drive loyalty. In order for this to be profitable, retailers must command higher prices and margins.  Historically, private label has been a powerful promotional or low cost option. The pendulum is shifting. Private label products have been experiencing a truly impressive growth spurt, creating new opportunities, challenges and risks for grocers.  

As retailers rely more heavily on private label to improve margins and boost customer loyalty, they also take on the responsibilities of being, in essence, brand manufacturers. With global supply chains consisting of hundreds or even thousands of suppliers, retailers require effective tools to understand, and keep close tabs on, each and every product they sell. In the case of food items, a single ingredient within a product that makes a consumer ill can cause a challenge and brand liability for a retailer.

Four Tips to Protect Your Brand Integrity

#1 Centralize Product Data on a Single System

Given the sheer volume of private label products being offered on supermarket shelves, creating and maintaining a centralized database of products — and their constituent ingredients — becomes an absolute necessity. In case of an emergency situation (i.e. a product recall of a potentially dangerous ingredient), speed is of the essence, both to satisfy government regulatory bodies and to support crisis control with consumer perceptions.

#2 Standardize Supplier On-boarding Processes to Include Product Data Collection

Finding new suppliers offering innovative products is a key element of ongoing private label growth. Once retailers create a centralized database with existing suppliers, they will need to tightly integrate product data collection into new supplier on-boarding processes. While this can be a challenge with smaller or less sophisticated companies that may not be accustomed to stringent data requirements, it’s absolutely essential that these workflows be established, maintained, and continuously checked and updated.

#3 Leverage the Cloud to Foster Transparency and Communication

With today’s globalized supply chains, a product may use ingredients grown and harvested a mere 10 miles from the retail store – or from 10,000 miles and multiple oceans away – or any combination in-between. The enormous web of manufacturers and raw material suppliers contributing to even the seemingly simplest products means cloud-based compliance and communication solutions are a must-have requirement. In addition, cloud-based solutions’ ability to foster multi-directional communications offers significant benefits in boosting innovation and speed to market.

#4 Create and Regularly Test Action Plans for Queries, Recalls and Other Potential Crises

Having a brand compliance solution in place provides retailers with a framework for preparing action plans, for events ranging from a simple query about which ingredients are used in which products to a full-scale recall generated by a potential health hazard.

Retailers need solutions providing granular traceability and high levels of accountability to deal with crisis situations such as product recalls or supply chain disruptions. Retailers also need effective ways to communicate and partner with their widespread supply chains. 

As Murphy’s Law says, anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. As you change the mix of your assortment to seize the private label momentum, be prepared. Avoid being in the headlines in the wrong way. Oracle can help. Explore the potential of Oracle Retail Brand Compliance Management Cloud Services


Source: The State of Private Label Around the World by Nielsen

 

Wednesday Feb 24, 2016

Minding the Gap in Retail

In the demanding world of retail, the CIO faces a delicate balancing act between maintaining smooth operations and innovating to meet consumer demand.

By Jeff Warren, Vice President, Oracle Retail

A few years ago, retailers spent a lot of time talking about the challenge of multichannel operations: how to provide the same merchandise and the same level of customer experience online as in the store. Then the use of smart phones exploded, adding in effect a third channel, mobile. Even as retailers were scrambling to deal with this complication, they realized that the boundary lines between one channel and another were vanishing. Customers walk into the store with a phone in their hand, buy things they see on the sales floor, accessorize them with items from the website, and expect it all to be handled as a single, on-the-spot, totally personalized transaction. The expectation is very clear: give the consumer what she wants and how she wants it, and in as close to real time as possible.

Meeting this expectation is essential. In a market in which any advantage in price point and selection can be countered by a dozen competitors, the key differentiator has become customer service. Retailers are striving not only to meet consumer demand but to anticipate it, and to provide an ever smoother and more personalized shopping experience. To do that successfully, retailers are looking to their CIOs to evaluate, adopt, and integrate new technological capabilities as soon as they become available.

But innovation, of course, is only part of the CIO’s job. IT is a cost center, and retail, for all its glamour, is a brutally competitive, low-margin industry. CIOs have to innovate, but they also have to keep the lights on—if the system’s down, you’re out of business—and they have to stay within the budget. How does a CIO create more capacity?

Changing the rules

One way—perhaps the key way—is by moving to the cloud or to a hybrid model that leverages the cost advantages of the cloud while retaining local IT control of core assets and operations. In a recent Forbes article on top strategic CIO issues, Oracle’s Bob Evans noted that “Before cloud computing, the #1 enemy of the CIO was the economic reality that 80% of his IT budget would be consumed by low-value maintenance and integration. Because cloud computing pushes that burden over to cloud vendors, CIOs can liberate huge portions of their budgets and reallocate them to projects centered on growth and customer engagement.”

Once the IT budget is liberated, it stays liberated. The cloud, whether as a total IT environment or as part of a hybrid system, makes it possible for retail organizations to keep abreast of business and technological developments without having to make unexpected investments in IT infrastructure.

The shift to the cloud also enables the continuance of a deep and ongoing change in the role of the retail CIO. A decade ago, retail IT was essentially seen as a cost center. While the CIO was responsible for enterprise-level IT, market-driven functions like ecommerce frequently reported to someone else. This pattern clearly required a change; retail IT broke out of its silo and began working more closely with functions like marketing. Now, with some routine maintenance and upgrade issues moved off their desks, the industry’s CIOs are shifting to become key innovators who work hand in hand with all the organization’s business stakeholders.

In this transition, retail CIOs may find themselves needing to evaluate the cloud and, as it stabilizes, to advocate for it. While the cost benefits more or less make the case for themselves, it may be necessary to explain, and where possible to demonstrate, the redundancy, functionality, security, and scalability advantages of the cloud to executives not versed in IT issues. Trust and performance must be proven.

The end goal is enablement. Today, organizational survival—especially in an industry like retail—depends on embracing new technologies at an unparalleled pace. More than ever before, CIOs need to create capacity and lead—to reach into the cloud and bridge the gap between operations and innovation.

Friday Feb 12, 2016

Introducing the New Oracle Retail RACK

Oracle Retail has been investing in the Retail Asset Community Knowledge portal (lovingly referred to as the RACK) for just shy of five years. Over the course of its tenure the RACK has amassed hundreds of presentations - the vast majority of which are developed by the Oracle Retail community. It's a treasure trove of epic proportions featuring content developed by Oracle Retail customers on everything from omnichannel strategy to merchandising, planning, supply chain, customer experience, change management and beyond. 

RACK Screen CaptureGiven the intrinsic value of the site we decided to take it up a notch and make some marked improvements to the UX this year. First and foremost we want to deliver our community a one-stop-shop that is easy to navigate. RACK subscribers can now navigate all of our customer content in one click and then drill down further if you're interested in a particular vertical. You can also search by retailer, product or topic in the event you are specifically interested in how Lids Sports Group is knocking it out of the park in terms of customer satisfaction with endless aisles and real-time inventory visibility, for example. 

The RACK is also home to all of the fantastic material our customers deliver at events across the globe. From Oracle Open World to the Oracle Retail Industry Forum, event proceedings are now easy to peruse and access. 

Finally, if you're looking for the latest updates on Oracle Retail roadmaps, the RACK is the place to go. You'll find detailed presentations from our solutions experts on everything from commerce to supply chain. 

Whether you're interested in how Nordstrom set itself up for success when expanding into Canada, how Swarovski migrated off an antiquated POS system to deliver a consistent brand experience for its customers worldwide or how mega retailers are leveraging exception-based reporting to reduce shrink and optimize store procedures, the RACK is the premier resource for best practices, practical applications of Oracle Retail solutions and tips on managing change. Membership is free; all you need is a valid business email address to access the site.

Visit the RACK and discover how retailers around the globe are realizing the promise of commerce anywhere. 

RACK Microsite Image

Tuesday Feb 09, 2016

Analyst Reports: IHL Market Studies Name Oracle Retail a Leader in POS Software for Hardgoods and Softgoods

Leading global research and advisory firm IHL recently released two new market studies (one focused onhardgoods and one focused on softgoods) and named Oracle Retail—specifically its flagship Oracle Retail Xstore Point-of-Service offering—the #1 overall provider for both types of retailers.

The studies examined specific aspects of point-of-service (POS) software used by hardgoods and softgoods retailers, including common core functionality, key economic and technological trends impacting the retail landscape, and vendor market share. They also looked at unique segment conditions affecting each type of retailer. Then, for the top 200 retailers, IHL identified and ranked their POS vendors in terms of total accounts, licenses, and revenues. This evaluation revealed Oracle’s leadership as a POS vendor for both hardgoods and softgoods retailers.

Commerce Anywhere and Oracle Retail Xstore Point-of-Service
With its acquisition of MICROS, Oracle inherited a wide range of POS solutions tailored to individual sectors and geographies. While continuing to support all of our stores solutions, Oracle Retail is investing in Oracle Retail Xstore Point-of-Service to help global retailers build strong customer loyalty in a commerce anywhere world.

"Thanks to the easily scalable, extensible architecture of Oracle Retail Xstore Point-of-Service around the globe, retailers can speed upgrades and leverage deep integration with Oracle Retail's customer engagement, commerce platform, order brokering, store inventory management, and order management solutions," says Oracle Retail Senior Director, Stores Erick Rowe.

Rich features and functionalities empower retail staff to provide memorable service levels, from seamless inventory visibility to the kind of customer insight that supports clienteling, gift registry, and targeted in-store promotions.

Special Offer: Migration to Oracle Retail Xstore Point-of-Service
To help retailers adopt the next-generation Oracle Retail Xstore Point-of-Service, Oracle Retail is extending a special offer, available via sales representatives, that protects customers' current license investments, while speeding and simplifying the migration process. The program includes:

  • Licensing credits. Many retailers will be eligible to apply credits from their current licensing agreements towards adoption of Oracle Retail Xstore Point-of-Service.
  • Streamlined migration. Oracle Retail has worked with partners and its own consulting organization to create scripts and process maps to speed migration from retailers' transitional solutions to the strategic platform that Oracle Retail Xstore Point-of-Service provides.
  • Modular adoption. Oracle Retail Xstore Point-of-Service has been engineered to integrate with the other key Oracle Retail solutions that support commerce anywhere operations. Oracle is helping retailers build a modular strategy, beginning with addressing key pain points, as they move toward a comprehensive commerce anywhere solution.

Global Omnichannel Commerce in Action
To understand how Oracle Retail Xstore Point-of-Service fits into Oracle's larger strategy for global, omnichannel commerce, retailers can contact Oracle Retail to schedule a viewing of the new Oracle Retail global omnichannel demo. 

The demo reveals the unified, state-of-the-art architecture that synchronizes all of the following solutions to support commerce anywhere:

Read the IHL market studies for hardgoods and softgoods.

Learn more about Oracle's special offer to migrate to Oracle Retail Xstore Point-of-Service via your Oracle Retail sales representative.

Schedule a viewing of the Oracle Retail global omnichannel demo.

This content is intended to outline our general product direction. It is intended for information purposes only, and may not be incorporated into any contract. It is not a commitment to deliver any material, code, or functionality, and should not be relied upon in making purchasing decisions. The development, release, and timing of any features or functionality described for Oracle’s products remains at the sole discretion of Oracle.

Friday Jan 15, 2016

Retailers Expand Commerce Faster with Oracle Cloud

Oracle Cloud serves every aspect of retailers’ business needs, from enterprise financials to customer marketing to e-commerce. The cloud is the most effective way for any retailer, big or small, to expand and update its retail operations to roll out new business models, expand merchandise offerings, open in new markets and drill down into customer preferences using best-in-class Oracle business intelligence and analytics.

Responding to the industry’s best growth opportunity in 2015, many retailers launched all-new shopping experiences with Oracle Commerce Cloud. Replacing platforms that were traditionally hosted and managed by IT teams within the walls of the retailer, today’s cloud services offer a simpler solution to maintaining feature-rich online storefronts, engaging customers, viewing inventory and fulfilling orders across channels. And unlike old systems, these modern solutions offer retailers immediate access to new technology and upgrades as they become available.

Nowhere is this truer than in e-commerce, and Oracle saw retailers take full advantage of new solutions well before the holiday shopping season began.  

Elaine Turner Director of e-CommerceWomen’s luxury brand Elaine Turner updated its e-commerce site to run on the Oracle Commerce Cloud so that it could expand beyond its 10 brick-and-mortar stores to engage its customers nationwide.  The move to the Oracle platform provided the retailer with a scalable, user-friendly and customer-centric system that quickly won favor.

“With Oracle Commerce Cloud, we expect to increase conversion rates by two times,” Carrie Leader, director of e-commerce, Elaine Turner, said during a recent webinar -, “and traffic between 20 and 30%.” Looking to the future, Elaine Turner predicts a sales increase between 50 and 100%with the help of the solution. Ms. Leader also shared the company's motivation for moving to Oracle Commerce Cloud at Open World this fall in a live interview

Similarly, at the end of 2015, independent retailer Rock/Creek was looking to expand its online presence and teamed up with Oracle Commerce Cloud. The outdoor specialist wanted to allow customers to generate more of their own content on the site, but needed help maintaining and upgrading the website to meet customers’ evolving expectations. Moving to a SaaS system made more sense for the retailer than struggling to keep upgrading on premise software.

 “As a local Chattanooga-based outdoor gear retailer, e-commerce is a strategic way to extend the reach of the Rock/Creek business,” said Mark McKnight, head of e-commerce, Rock/Creek. “But we like to focus on bringing the best rock climbing, paddling, running and hiking gear to our customers—not managing a technology infrastructure. With a SaaS solution like Oracle Commerce Cloud, Rock/Creek can simultaneously keep our technology costs low and stay innovative with the latest commerce features for online shopping experiences. Both are important to our business as our customers demand more from their online shopping experiences and as we continue to grow and scale our business.”

The cloud is the most effective way for any retailer, big or small, to expand and update its retail operations to roll out new business models, expand merchandise offerings, open in new markets and drill down into customer preferences using best-in-class business intelligence and analytics.  

Visit Oracle Retail at booth 2521 during NRF's Big Show to demo Oracle Commerce Cloud.  


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News and ideas about the retail industry with a focus on customers, innovation, trends and emerging technologies.




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