It is striking to me just how much the retail industry is currently under pressure. I think about the news of Nine West filing for bankruptcy – a large contributor to my high school shoe collection – and I see the financial strain that retailers are under right now, more than ever before. Retailers are under high pressure to keep the customer experience consistent, fun and on brand, wherever they may be interacting. They are expected to react much faster, not just for delivery, but with bringing new items to market. I’d like to think this tension is giving retailers a real opportunity though to take time and innovate.
In IBM’s Experience Revolution Study, it was clear that what retail executives think is driving customers versus what customers actually think is in many cases not aligned. Retailers tend to rank control and self-service higher than customers, whose top priority is speed, ease and convenience.
There is also a significant gap between what retailers think and what consumers are thinking in Oracle Retail’s “Retail 2018: The Loyalty Divide” research study that was just released. The study found, for example, that 53% of retailers think consumers are more loyal these days, when only 35% of consumers agreed.
Gary Vaynerchuk, who spoke at our Oracle Retail Industry event years back, says that you either “innovate or die.” In analyzing the Toys ‘R’ Us bankruptcy, he made a good point that Toys ‘R’ Us missed a huge opportunity to innovate – especially since they had already captured the imagination of kids and even adults. As a toy store, they could've built playgrounds or had countless child-focused interactive experiences in their stores, but it was a missed opportunity that unfortunately contributed to their closing.
In terms of innovation, Oracle Retail’s core Merchandising solution, with embedded business analytics and adaptive intelligence, is offering a way for retailers to modernize and deliver on customers’ increased demands. We are taking retailers on a journey to the cloud and building innovation into our solution to keep up with the market’s changes. Here are a few ways that we have evolved our core merchandise operations management suite to support the needs of the modern retailer.
RIS mentions that by 2020, 50% of all searches will be done by voice alone. We've embedded the ability to have voice within our merchandising platform. Similarly, we are embedding cross company collaboration tools like Slack as well. For example, you can capture a conversation about a delayed PO shipment, save it to a particular PO, and then access that data from a tablet or mobile device, across the company, anywhere. Now that’s modern, mobile retailing.
Now available with the use of Oracle Retail Insights or Retail Science, is the newly launched Retail Home. Retail Home is a highly configurable entry portal to our suite of solutions and gives you a tile view of meaningful KPIs, specific to a user’s role. With Retail Insights, there are over 4,000 metrics integrated into Retail Home out of the box. It also gives you access to the applications right from the dashboard so that you can understand the issue and take action as efficiently as possible.
Using Retail Home as your overall entry point, you can dive into the operational insights dashboards within the merchandising solution. We developed these point of view dashboards collaboratively with our customer community to make sure each dashboard is relevant and tailored to user roles like buyer, inventory controller, inventory analyst, data steward and invoice match clerk.
More than just being informative, each dashboard gives you the ability to take immediate action from the dashboard itself. Buyers can perform common tasks like approving a submitted purchase order or cancelling an item, all without even having to launch into the merchandising application.
Retail Home is the common access point tying together operational and analytical data and connecting it to action. In addition, relevant unstructured data, such as social sentiment, can be loaded into Retail Insights and used to influence your assortment decisions. With Retail Home, users have a relevant, personalized place to go that brings together all types of insights in a single place.
The Retail Reference Library helps cut down on modifications and gives retailers an innovative place to start their implementation. Instead of spending time and money to build out to-be processes, you can easily leverage the Retail Reference Model, which contains over 800 best practice processes, across all Oracle Retail products. The Retail Reference Architecture provides detailed deployment models and integration flows, while the Retail Semantic Glossary makes sure that your team has a common language and understanding.
The Retail Learning Subscription (RLS) provides access to educational content 24/7 in smaller video snippets, for better user engagement. You don't have to wait for a class to be offered, since this self-paced instruction is available as a subscription and can be accessed at any time. We are continually adding new videos to the RLS to keep it up-to-date and to provide content in a more agile way.
As we continue to evolve our merchandising suite to support retailers, our customer base also continues to grow. A few of our retail customers that continue to innovate with us on the latest Oracle Retail Merchandising release include Dubai Duty Free, Lululemon and The GAP.