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.  

Single View of Inventory Means Growth for Retailers Nordstrom and Lids Sports Group

Inventory—or lack thereof—can make or break a sale, influencing the immediate purchase and making a lasting impression on the shopper. 

And although retail executives have long voiced the need for a single view of inventory, the demand is now deriving from the shoppers themselves. In Oracle’s 2015 “Retail Without Limits” survey, 70% of consumers said they wanted visibility into retailers’ inventory in order to make their purchases anytime, anywhere.

With stakes this high—and with a growing number of paths to purchase—it’s becoming increasingly necessary for brands in 2016 to offer consumers an accurate, right-now view of items in stock at any location or online.  

More retailers are achieving one fluid view of inventory that facilitates the services customers prefer – sometimes before they know it. Nordstrom long ago set the standard for excellence in service by making customers’ convenience its top priority. The retailer, which uses Oracle solutions as the foundation for its world-renowned inventory and merchandising operations, was among the first to allow customers to return items purchased at any of its brands to any convenient store, including at a sister brand location: Nordstrom Rack and Haute Look. 

Bringing One Nordsrtom to Life

“Our strategy is straightforward: to realize the strengths and advantages of One Nordstrom,” David Boeschenstein, VP of merchandise and supply chain technology for Nordstrom, said in a presentation at Oracle OpenWorld in October. “As we entered the Canadian market, we wanted to fuel growth. We wanted to avoid customizations and maintain the upgrade path, so we didn’t face the same situation going forward.”

Nordstrom launched a new, upgraded version of Oracle solutions to form the foundation for its retail operations in Canada. The features and functionality provided within the latest Oracle applications mean the retailer can avoid customization, a change that paid off quickly when Nordstrom rolled out upgrades to its Canadian store systems just nine months after the first location opened in 2014. 

Another retailer using a single view of inventory to further its success is specialty brand Lids Sports Group, which operates 1,300 stores in North America and an online business. What makes the retailer unique is that its brick-and-mortar assortments are hyper-localized and feature products from regional favorites, as well as national teams. The brand recently needed to upgrade its inventory systems so that all of the regionally available sports memorabilia could be seen by a consumer shopping in any store nationwide or online.  

In April 2015, Lids rolled out Oracle Retail Order Broker, enabling the retailer to nearly double the number of product SKUs available for sale online by exposing inventory in all Lids stores as well as throughout its supply chain.

The new system gives associates and customers real-time, chain-wide inventory information whether products are sitting in a warehouse, an e-commerce distribution center, or on a store shelf hundreds of miles away. Employees can easily find available items and then ship them to customers’ homes or businesses, or to any store in the chain. The deployment also replaced end of the day inventory tracking with real-time views. 

Lids Sports Group Webcast Archive Link

“Oracle Retail solutions have made a dramatic difference in how we do business, both with regard to our internal systems and in relating to customers,” said Larry Havlik, VP , IT and systems, Lids Sports Group. “This is a significant step toward driving growth, by expanding the items we offer and giving customers the full benefit of our locations, in-store service, and e-commerce site.”

Previously this year Kevin Thompson, Director of Applications Development at Lids Sports Group shared the company's experience working with Oracle Retail Xstore Point-of-Service and Order Broker Cloud Service in a webcast. View the archive to hear their story

Thursday Jan 14, 2016

Keeping Pace With the Speed of Retail Technology

As retailers arrive today at NRF’s Big Show 2016, they will be met with displays of the latest, cutting-edge technology. And as each attendee embarks to fulfill unique agendas and goals, most will face the same underlying challenge: How to effectively manage perpetual upgrades to existing systems, even while layering in new business intelligence and customer facing systems. 

Now, more than ever, it is essential that retailers leverage embedded best practices and keep systems updated with the latest technology in order to maintain pace with the digital commerce world. Proof of this necessity was the role technology played in the unmatched e-commerce success of the 2015 holiday season. Retailers’ success during this busy shopping season hinged on their ability to read what was happening, in real-time, and respond quickly. For example, personalizing promotions influenced purchase decisions across mobile, online, in store and even call centers, as did visibility to inventory and the timeline for fulfillment.

And while this selling period may have only lasted nine weeks, the holidays make up a majority of the retailer’s fourth quarter sales and set the tone for the entire year. With less than 10 months leading up to the next holiday season, now is the time to assess back-end systems and make necessary upgrades well before go time.  

Upgrades can be a lengthy process, especially when working with legacy, internally developed or point solutions that are heavily customized. Vanilla is the flavor of the day.

Jill Standish, senior VP and general manager of Oracle Retail, notes that a combination of on-premises and cloud solutions offer retailers choice and the ability to make changes and complete IT initiatives faster. 

“That means keeping up with fast-changing consumer requirements and staying ahead of disruptive competition in the marketplace,” said Standish. 

Answering customers’ need for an easier way to fuel progress, the company has rolled out a complete range of its enterprise, marketing and retail-specific cloud services in Oracle Retail 15.  

Why Upgrade?

International fashion brand Perry Ellis asked that question in 2015 with Oracle Retail 14. The company first implemented Oracle solutions in 2006 to support expanding e-commerce and store operations. Then in release 12, the retailer used the systems to target pricing and promotions and grow its direct-to-consumer sales.  But over time, these systems required updates to accommodate increasingly more individualized customer services, mobile transactions and faster merchandising cycles.

When weighing the opportunity to upgrade, Perry Ellis made the commitment to deliver commerce anywhere experience in which inventory is available to fulfill customer purchases from any channel. The move also united Perry Ellis’ U.S. and European retail stores with a single global instance of Oracle Retail Merchandising System that serves both markets. Speed to value was critical to Perry Ellis, so the company teamed with Oracle and BTM Global to seamlessly upgrade its IT solutions, both online and in brick-and-mortar, in just six months. 

“The risk of doing nothing is we’ll be left behind,” said Sandeep Baghel, director of retail systems, Perry Ellis International, in an interview with Oracle. “We want to have the best IT systems available to support our business. We want to be available to customers wherever customers want us to be available. That will help us grow toward our future.”

This week at NRF 2016, Oracle is introducing the next set of innovation across the suite plus four new cloud services to give retailers access to the latest optimization and business analytics including merchandising financial planning, demand forecasting and customer segmentation solutions.  

All are part of the company’s latest release, Oracle Retail 15, which delivers cloud and on-premises solutions to help retailers more readily integrate existing legacy systems and new applications to deliver new value to the business. Oracle Retail 15 also includes updates to the Retail Reference Model featuring over 680 process flows that document industry best practices to jumpstart the implementation for retailers. 

Connect with us at booth 2521 this week at #NRF16. Learn more about demo options, networking and more

Tuesday Jan 05, 2016

Oracle Retail 15: Evolving Commerce Anywhere Capabilities

In December 2015, Oracle Retail announced the availability of Oracle Retail 15, which has been engineered to accelerate innovation and enable retailers to deliver on their brand promise through commerce anywhere. 

Retailers have embraced the vision of commerce anywhere—the ability to fulfill demand regardless of source, and delight customers with exceptional, seamless interactions with their brand. However, the path to achieving it has not always been clear. 

"We are the only provider that brings together every element required to deliver commerce anywhere, including planning and optimization, supply chain management, merchandise operations, store operations, and consumer interactions," says Oracle Retail Vice President of Solutions Management Jeff Warren. "Just as important, we deliver both the retail science and the native integrations to bind all these pieces together." 

Oracle Retail 15

Oracle Retail 15 has been engineered to accelerate innovation and enable retailers to deliver on their brand promise through commerce anywhere. Oracle Retail 15 realizes the acquisition vision with key MICROS integrations; evolves the user experience via mobility, exception management, and productivity enhancements; and extends the availability of best-of-breed retail applications with four new cloud service offerings. 

“With Oracle Retail 15, we are bringing all the pieces together, enabling retailers to interact with customers via any channel and in any capacity," says Warren. 

To advance this vision, new features and functionalities in Oracle Retail 15 include:

Acquisition Vision with Key Integrations to Oracle MICROS

  • Hardware and software engineered to work together. Our next-generation point-of-service workstation includes hardware, software, and peripherals. This new offering is prebuilt and tested to support commerce anywhere. The clean, modern, and visually appealing design reflects the modern image today’s retailers want to convey, and enables both consumers and staff to engage.
  • Native integration of Oracle Retail Xstore Point-of-Service with the Oracle Retail Merchandising suite. To support commerce anywhere, merchandising and store solutions now share the same merchandise hierarchy, item attributes, tag and label information, inventory and transaction information, and price management information. Includes new integration to Oracle Retail Merchandising System, Oracle Retail Price Management, and Oracle Retail Sales Audit.
Evolved User Experience with Mobility, Exception Management, and New Functionality to Drive Productivity
  • Omnichannel assortment planning. Connect planning and forecasting with execution across in-store, direct, and wholesale businesses—as well as across the business or within commerce clusters.
  • Automated invoice matching. New algorithms can automate matching of up to 90 percent of retail invoices. And exception-based processes allow users to handle manual matching up to 50 percent faster.
  • Automated purchase order induction. With the latest release, exception-based processes enable users to induct purchase orders in bulk and simplify mass order maintenance.
  • Demand forecasting at the category level. Go beyond item-based demand forecasting to build forecasts based on item attributes. This enables category-level planning—especially important for the grocery sector. Exception-based processing ensures that you create item-level forecasts where required.
Extend Availability with New Cloud Service Offerings
  • Oracle Retail Sales and Productivity Cloud Service. Gathers highly valuable sales and productivity information. Now, retailers can leverage that data for real-time insights into comparative sales, salesperson productivity, merchandise productivity, store sales, store traffic, and more.
  • Oracle Retail Merchandise Financial Planning Cloud Service. Identifies opportunities for more-profitable inventory investment, ensuring that day-to-day decisions align with business objectives. This cloud service will enable cross-channel and cross-organizational collaboration in the planning process using roles, plan versions, and reconciliation and approval.
  • Oracle Retail Demand Forecasting Cloud Service. This cloud service incorporates factors that impact sales, such as website launches, new stores, product introductions, price and assortment changes, and promotions. This automated and attribute-level forecasting process highlights problems or opportunities.
  • Oracle Retail Market Basket Insights Cloud Service. This new cloud service includes a retail proprietary similarity algorithm that exploits raw market basket data, exploring what items are often bought together and which are seldom/never bought together. Oracle’s data mining cloud service leverages loyalty or basket data to model SKU to SKU similarity scores derived from observing customer purchase behavior over time.

Learn more about Oracle Retail 15.

Essential details:

  • Registration Link:
  • Title: Commerce Anywhere in the Era of Convergence: Oracle Retail Release 15
  • Speaker: Jeff Warren, VP of Solutions Management
  • Date & Time: January 7, 2016 at 1:00pm EST
  • Product: Oracle Retail 15

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.

Monday Jan 04, 2016

4 Essential Considerations for Hassle-free, Low-risk Returns

According to NRF, retailers estimate holiday return fraud will cost $2.2 billion in 2015. Combine this number with the rise in online shopping this holiday season, of which 80% includes free return shipping, and you’ve got some significant revenue loss potential.

About $62 billion in goods bought between November and December 2015 will be returned, up 8% from the same period last year, with about a third of those items (more than $20 billion worth) purchased online, according to Customer Growth Partners.

A pain-free returns process is a vital part of the customer service experience and denying legitimate returns presents significant risk to customer loyalty. A well defined and managed returns process will enhance the customer experience while protecting the business from theft.

We asked Michael Colpitts, Solution Market Director, Stores & Commerce, Oracle Retail, to share his tips on how to achieve the right balance between fraud prevention and excellent customer service.

4 Essential Considerations for Hassle-free, Low-risk Returns

1. Plan for Unreceipted Returns

It is estimated that more than 13.4 percent of nonreceipted returns are fraudulent; unfortunately, you can't just deny all nonreceipted returns. Studies show that a customer's experience of returning merchandise is a key decision point in building loyalty and many of them expect to be able to return when and where they wish. So on one hand, you have to factor fraud cutting into the bottom line, and on the other hand you have to consider how a poor customer experience diminishes loyalty. Managing exceptions from your POS data allows loss prevention professionals to quickly flag recurring issues like unreceipted returns so that field investigators can prioritize investigations.

2. Leverage Automation to Ensure Compliance

It’s fine to write a policy statement and distribute it throughout your stores, but actually achieving compliance is another matter. That’s where automation becomes really important. You want a system in place that offers associates the right guidance during the execution of returns so that policy is adhered to, customer experience is consistent at every location, every time and employee knowledge of policies becomes widespread.

3. A Single View of the Customer is Critical

If your in-store POS and online sales data is siloed you are inevitably going to miss patterns. This is key because a customer’s return history is invaluable in determining the likelihood of fraud. Just as important, leveraging a central repository for all customer transactions enables you to convert a nonreceipted return into a receipted return by looking up the original transaction at the POS.

4. Look for Flexibility, Scale and Seamless Integrations

When selecting a technology solution always consider what the business will look like in 5, 10, 15 years and consider integration requirements with other solutions (both cloud and on-premises). The Oracle Retail Returns Management solution gives retailers the ability to create flexible returns policies that are fully integrated with the broader Oracle Retail Stores and Commerce solutions ensuring a consistent data set. Even the most complex policies are easy to create and manage with 40 built-in rules that evaluate the return. These rules incorporate all available criteria to determine how the return should be handled including presence of a receipt, customer return history, store location, item or brand being returned, condition of the item—and much more.

The Risk of Doing Nothing

As loss prevention technology adoption accelerates criminals strategically look for retailers that have manual processes and loop holes. For those who do not act, losses will inevitably accelerate. We’re helping retailers strike the right balance of risk mitigation and hassle free shopping experiences. Learn more at or drop us an email:

For more information on retail fraud statistics and trends read NRF’s 2015 Consumer Returns in the Retail Industry report.

Monday Dec 28, 2015

Nordstrom Drives International and Omni-Channel Growth with Oracle Solutions

Founded in 1901, Seattle-based Nordstrom has long been known for superior service, going above and beyond to create a fantastic customer experience, and empowering employees to do whatever it takes to keep customers happy. To know Nordstrom, is to love Nordstrom. I would encourage you to explore for yourself, the Half-Yearly Sale is on until January 3rd. Below is an editorial view of the recent Oracle OpenWorld presentation. 

Today, the department store chain also leads the market in bringing customers new omni-channel conveniences. For example, Nordstrom offers not only in-store pickup of goods bought online, but also permits cross-channel returns with buy-anywhere-return-anywhere service at any of its Nordstrom, Nordstrom Rack and Haute Look outlets.

“We provide an awesome shopping experience,” David Boeschenstein, vice president of Merchandise and Supply Chain Technology for Nordstrom, said in a presentation at Oracle OpenWorld in October. “We make it convenient for the customer to shop wherever and whenever she wants to shop.”

Oracle Powers Nordstrom’s Renowned Inventory Management

Most recently, Nordstrom employed Oracle Retail Merchandising System to enable its omni-channel initiatives by giving the department store chain a full view of inventory. The company eventually extended the system to its Nordstrom Rack division and web storefronts, but it became overly customized and siloed over time—and a new push into Canada would necessitate improved integration.

“Our strategy is straightforward: to realize the strengths and advantages of One Nordstrom,” Boeschenstein said, referring to its unified omni-channel strategy. “But we were handcuffed by a system that’s overly complex [and] costly to maintain. As we entered the Canadian market, we wanted to make sure we were able to grow. We wanted to maintain the upgrade path, so we didn’t face the same situation going forward.”

Nordstrom identified several priorities to guide the Next Generation (NGEN) initiative. “We needed to make sure we weren’t just going to replace the system we have today,” Boeschenstein said. “We wanted to be able to justify any complexity. We want to stay nimble; we want to stay focused—and prioritize what’s added going forward.”

The announcement of a Fall 2014 launch date for its first Canadian store helped the team focus on those goals and go live with RMS 13.26 just nine months later in Calgary. “It helped us balance the ‘nice to haves’ versus the ‘need to haves,’” Boeschenstein said. “We learned a lot from the implementation. It was opportunity for us to evaluate what support was there, and evaluate our internal capabilities.”

Nordstrom Rack Moves to New Oracle Retail Solutions

The next phase of the upgrade—taking Nordstrom Rack stores in the U.S. to Oracle Retail Merchandising System Version 14.1—would be more complicated. The team broke the task into stages and looked to the Oracle Retail Reference Library for guidance. Rollout will ultimately require an interdepartmental approach, and has the full support of the company. “Acknowledging that this is the most important initiative in the company enabled us to get the resources we needed,” Boeschenstein said.

“The other thing we learned, and knew intuitively, is that there’s a need for early and often performance testing,” he added. “We’ve piloted a few stores, and now we’re taking a break to make sure performance is tuned correctly so we’re on track for Fall 2016.” In 2017, the company will upgrade to Oracle Retail Version 14.1 in Canada and introduce Nordstrom Rack stores there; full-price stores in the U.S. will see an upgrade starting in 2018.

“We have a great relationship with Oracle, and we really appreciate that,” Boeschenstein said. “We’re learning along the way, and applying the lessons learned. And we feel like we’re making significant strides in achieving our One Nordstrom strategy.”

For more insight to Nordstrom’s strategic use of Oracle solutions to support its expansion into Canada, see the full presentation "Nordstrom: Technology to Enable Future Growth". 

Oracle’s retail customer community is a rich resource for peer-to-peer insights to best practices and business strategies. Follow this blog in the coming weeks as we share a series of stories presented by retailers during Oracle OpenWorld 2015 in San Francisco. We invite you to learn more about the Oracle solutions used by these and other retailers worldwide, join us at the National Retail Federation “Big Show” held January 17-20 in New York City, New York, where we will demonstrate the industry’s most comprehensive suite of cloud and retail services solutions. #NRF16 

Thursday Dec 24, 2015

Fall into the Gap Inc: Upgrade to New Global Retail Systems

In the final shopping days of the year, I am proud to profile one of my personal favorites. In case you missed OpenWorld, here is a little synopsis of the recent presentation from Oracle OpenWorld.  We are thankful for the long time partnership with Gap. Personally, I would encourage you to "Fall into the Gap" to take advantage of the winter sale for last minute gifts for the procrastinators out there. Remember you can also endear yourself to a loved one who can take advantage of these awesome sales in the coming weeks. 

Launched in 1969 by Don and Doris Fisher, “the Gap” was named for the “Generation Gap” that was developing between older generations and what would become known as baby boomers. And thanks to its hip positioning and catchy Fall into the Gap jingle, Gap grew fast. In 1973, the small chain went public at $18 per share.

More recently, the company faced a different kind of gap—an upgrade gap that was threatening to make its software systems obsolete. “We were two to four versions behind in some of our Oracle systems,” said Connie Santilli, Senior Director for Gap, Inc., at the recent Oracle Open World conference in San Francisco. “When you are in that situation, every fix has to be re-engineered and retrofitted and you cannot take advantage of the capabilities of the newer versions.”

Gap, Inc. has never stopped growing, Santilli noted in the session, “Merchandising: a Foundation for Growth and Innovation at Gap, Inc.” The company acquired safari-style outfitter Banana Republic in the 1990s, and launched its own value brand, Old Navy; more recently, it has expanded into women’s athletic wear and designer apparel with the Athleta and Intermix brands. Gap, Inc. now operates or franchises more than 3,700 stores in 90 countries, and logs more than $16 billion in sales annually.

Gap, Inc. Empowers a Team with Deep Retail and IT Expertise

As its global footprint grew, the company was running three separate instances of its merchandising systems to cover North American, European and Asian markets. The company made extensive customizations to its Oracle Retail Version 10 upon implementation for North America in 2004. Europe went live with Version 12 in 2008; Asia, two years later. The highly-customized systems remained in place with multiple patches ever since.

To streamline and simplify its global IT environment, take advantage of new capabilities and set a course for ongoing upgrades, Gap realized it needed an overhaul, and fast. Together with Oracle and Infosys, the company created a plan to “de-risk” a full implementation, looking to streamline its inventory, supply chain and merchandising platforms and cut costly customizations in order to support continued growth in new markets and channels. “It’s like a new install for us,” Santilli said. “Like setting up a parallel system and firing it up.”

The plan launched in September 2014 with a new install covering Gap’s Asian markets. The deployment wasn’t easy—for one thing, stores and websites needed to stay live during a two- to three-day conversion. The team tested Oracle’s Version 14 by conducting mock deployments a week ahead of the go-live date, just nine months later.

“We took stores in Hong Kong, Japan and Shanghai, and did the installations,” said Paul Lamoureux, senior director of Enterprise Architecture for Gap, Inc. “We loaded a whole day’s data to duplicate the craziness that happens across stores, deployed it and backed it out again.”

Once deployed, the new system was a big success, Lamoureux said, delivering complete visibility across all outlets in the region. Now, the challenge for Gap and its partners is to apply that single code base in markets throughout the world to bring deliver a universal, updatable solution system-wide. Gap began deployment in Europe in the third quarter of 2015 and expects to complete it by the mid-2016; Japan will follow immediately after, and the entire company expects to be running Version 14 by mid-2018.

Gap went from an AIX environment to a Linux environment on a short timeline in Asia, noted Rick Whicker, senior director of Information Technology for Gap, Inc., and it couldn’t have been done without the dedicated, 20-person implementation team that includes IT professionals from Gap, Oracle and Infosys. “It really made the project successful in getting through the nine-month window.” Santilli applauded Oracle Consulting Services (ACS) for its attentive account management. 

“Implementing an entirely new version is a big challenge,” Whicker said. “I’ve heard of clients that were able to write a kind of conversion script to ease the transition. In our case, that was not possible.” For companies needing to implement a similar overhaul, Whicker said, “think security from day one.” Firewalls and other protections can require coordination across many departments. “Oracle Retail Version 14 is a well-written product,” he added. “But that doesn’t mean we didn’t have performance challenges. Lots of different stores and lots of different prices were a problem, but we were able to ‘tune’ the software—and most of those tuning exercises are now inside the base product.

“The Oracle code base is exceptionally stable,” Whicker said. “We were ready for hundreds of issues to come through, and we even never got close to that number. After implementation, we were stable within 30 days. And we were able to eliminate 58% of customizations, which we all know are costly.”

Oracle’s retail customer community is a rich resource for peer-to-peer insights to best practices and business strategies. Follow this blog in the coming weeks as we share a series of stories presented by retailers during Oracle OpenWorld 2015 in San Francisco. We invite you to learn more about the Oracle solutions used by these and other retailers worldwide, join us at the National Retail Federation “Big Show” held January 17-20 in New York City, New York, where we will demonstrate the industry’s most comprehensive suite of cloud and retail services solutions. #NRF16 

Monday Dec 21, 2015

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 on hardgoods 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 will also be showcased at the National Retail Federation Annual Convention & EXPO in Oracle’s booth, #2521. 

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

Friday Dec 18, 2015

Ready Set Go: Last Day to Shop & Ship

Today is the big day for online shopping. The clock is ticking and the level panic is starting to rise. The Star Wars theme song looms in the back of your mind. Duuh Duuh da da da Duuh Duuh da da da. Is it the marketing and excitement of the movie premiere weekend? or do you feel that is also the theme song to your next shopping endeavor? I personally fear the comeback of the french braid and Princess Leia buns. Next week is an even bigger opportunity for carriers to join forces with retailers to make money on the art of procrastination. 

We recently hosted a panel discussion at Oracle OpenWorld hosted by Devon Hillard, co-founder of Spark::red with executives from TOMS, Furniture Row and Vitamix. After upgrading to Oracle Commerce, Furniture Row, Toms Shoes and Vitamix found that their websites were easier to manage, faster and more stable than ever before.

Oracle Commerce helps businesses build websites that suit a variety of e-commerce needs. And no matter what the company’s goals may be, Oracle Commerce provides flexible, easy-to-use templates deliver capabilities that help meet the demands of today’s customers.

Representatives from three retailers—Furniture Row, Toms Shoes and Vitamix—told how deployments of Oracle Commerce aided in their companies’ expansion and streamlined the functions required to sell products in digital channels. While the retailers had different target markets and levels of experience, each was able to realize efficiencies with Oracle Commerce.

Toms Shoes wanted to pursue international expansion while continuing to support its charitable initiatives worldwide. Longtime blender manufacturer Vitamix wanted to replace its entire e-commerce platform with a new solution from Oracle to streamline commerce across borders and channels.

And with 360 stores in 31 states, Furniture Row needed a way to command shoppers’ second screens in-store. “Our customers are in our stores using their smartphones to look things up,” said Noah Linge, director of Digital Marketing for the Denver-based chain. “We just have to make sure that it’s as easy as possible for them to do.”

Oracle Commerce handles surges in site traffic with ease, the panelists said. “You never know when the next peak is going to hit,” Linge said. “We live in an age when a celebrity can tweet about one of your pillows and of a sudden, everyone and their mom wants to see that one product. With Endeca (Oracle Commerce), it’s business as usual.”

Toms’ biggest rush begins on Black Friday and continues for four days, through Giving Tuesday. “On Black Friday weekend, we had 10,000 concurrent users and 5,000 concurrent checkouts, and the system didn’t even burp,” Fontana said. “I was using duct tape with the old systems.” And the newest convert, Vitamix, tested its site at eight times peak volume, and “barely saw a blip,” Grebey noted.

All three companies reported that Oracle Commerce produced faster, more stable sites, too—a necessity when coping with increased mobile traffic. Toms reported that Endeca doubled page load speeds, and found that faster pages produced bigger orders.

“We started digging under the hood,” Fontana said. “We started replacing our ATG pages with Endeca templates, and they fly now. We’ve also had a higher average order value; we did not expect that. We really didn’t realize what a struggle the old pages were.”

“As mobile gets bigger, that speed has to get faster and faster,” Linge added. “Everybody wants their pixel on your page, and everybody wants to track something. Our goal is to make the customer happy, and it’s a constant fight.” 

If procrastination is the reason your company may have struggled this holiday season, let's get started earlier and work together to ensure optimal results in 2016. Download a handy guide to holiday readiness. For the final days of shopping online or in-store, I say May the Force be with You. Yoda would say "Shopping, I must". 

In closing, watch this video. It will make you smile on a Friday. Duuh Duuh da da da Duuh Duuh da da da Duuh Duuh dun-dun-dun-duuuuh...

Thursday Dec 10, 2015

Introducing a Retail Engineered System to Support Commerce Anywhere

Introducing Oracle MICROS Workstation 6 Family, a Retail Engineered System to Support Commerce Anywhere

As part of Oracle Retail 15, Oracle Retail is launching Oracle MICROS Workstation 6 Family—the industry's first purpose-built, end-to-end point-of-service (POS) solution. Engineered from the ground up to support commerce anywhere, it includes complete POS hardware, plus the OS, app servers, database, and POS application.

Historically, retailers have purchased each element of the POS system from separate vendors, and it was up to them to integrate, test, and secure their solution. Like Oracle's other engineered systems, Oracle MICROS Workstation for Retail removes these burdens with a solution that is certified and secured both physically and virtually—right out of the box.

More than just a register, Oracle MICROS Workstation 6 Family includes:

  • Cash drawers
  • Handheld scanners
  • Pole displays
  • Receipt printers
  • Power conditioners
  • Bio-metric readers (optional)
  • NFC and wireless functionality (optional)

It is available in two editions: value (designed for lower transaction rate operations such as pop-up kiosks and luxury boutiques) and performance (designed for tier one retailers or those with higher transaction rates such as convenience and airport stores).

Engineered for Commerce Anywhere

Oracle MICROS Workstation for Retail and Oracle Xstore Point-of-Service have been optimized to work together. Oracle's flagship POS solution now runs natively in landscape orientation on the new workstation's 15.6-inch high-definition tablet-style display screen.

Together, Oracle MICROS Workstation 6 Family and Oracle Xstore Point-of-Service deliver retailers the complete components plus power to enable commerce anywhere. The intuitive design of Oracle Xstore Point-of-Service makes it easy for sales associates to access all the data and systems they need to provide memorable, omnichannel service experiences, from seamless inventory visibility to the kind of customer insights that support clienteling and targeted in-store promotions.

Clean, Modern Design to Extend Your Brand

Besides supporting omnichannel service experiences, Oracle MICROS Workstation 6 Family provides a crisp, modern look that does away with the bulky registers of the past. The visually appealing design means retailers can extend their brand all the way to consumers' shopping experience.

See the Oracle MICROS Workstation 6 Family at Oracle’s booth during the National Retail Federation Annual Conference and EXPO from January 17-20, 2016 in New York City.

Wednesday Dec 09, 2015

New Strategies: Grocery, Loss Prevention and the Mafia

As Alanis Morrissette would say "Isn't it Ironic"? I have been working on the latest blog entry focused on Grocery Loss Prevention with my colleagues Bill Warrick and Rand Fernandes. I learned some pretty interesting things that I had planned to share and then WHAM! Safeway tries to break my leg. Allow me to explain.

Today I get the dreaded call of a working parent on a deadline. My child is sick and I have to pick him up from school. The doctor calls in the antibiotics to Safeway. While we wait for the fulfillment, we shop. Being a considerate shopper and self declared "retail researcher", I confirm with the pharmacy that I should buy everything else and then come back for the single transaction. No problem. Self checkout is easy. 

Enter the mafia strategy. I learned the hard way that if you take one of the new loss prevention carts without going through a checkout process, the cart wheels lock and slam into your leg leaving a massive bruise. Way to go "Jimmy the fish". I believe the mafia might be behind this new development. However if you want to be careful not to impale your loyal and honest customers like me, a data strategy might also be helpful.  

Grocery: The Exception to the Rule

Grocery stores struggle with loss prevention. With so many items of varying prices and so many transactions processed, the temptation to game the system arises from customers and employees alike. Incidences of fraud and theft can be so small as to go unnoticed, but they are rarely isolated and add up over time—and with razor-thin margins, finding such incidents and preventing more from happening is a make- or-break issue. Did you know that the average theft issue costs grocers $98.83 per incident?

The scams are sometimes so subtle that they could be mistakes: A bag of dog food or a case of bottled water left unchecked under the cart and carried to the curb, for example, or a manufacturer coupon redeemed without its corresponding purchase. Other scams may be more obviously deliberate—like when a cashier under rings a friend’s purchases or a self-checkout customer “forgets” to swipe a six-pack—but still go unnoticed.

Chains such as BJ’s Wholesale, Meijer, Publix, Smart & Final and Kroger use excep- tion-based reporting solutions to help head off such costly fraud, theft and employee error. By setting expectations of what “normal” transaction data looks like and finding transactions that don’t fit the norm, exception-based reporting is helping managers discover and investigate patterns of loss more quickly. Following are four common offenses that cost grocers valuable dollars and time.

The Risk of Self-Checkout (if "Jimmy the fish" is not your consultant)

One common method of defrauding stores at checkout is to ring more expensive items as produce. An unscrupulous customer might walk in and pick up a six-pack of craft beer, for example, and key in the code for bananas at the self-checkout instead, paying 29 cents per pound. Produce is a lot cheaper than alcohol. Swindles like this are so common that loss prevention architects refer to its built-in models as “banana cases,” and Oracle works with stores to define key codes to head off misuse.

Another exception the system seeks out is when transaction duration doesn’t match the number of items. Research shows that the slower a person is at the self-checkout, the more likely it is that he or she is skipping the scanner before bagging, and walking out with free groceries.

Friends and Family Discounts

Clerks can help friends save by ringing up incorrect categories—charging ground- beef prices for tenderloin steaks, for example. The exception based management solution allows a retailer to search for patterns of exception against established KPIs including refund count, no match, and credit cards with employees and non-employee activity. The system links exceptions to in-store video, identifying location, time and transaction to help management review the appropriate footage.

Coupons and Price Adjustments

Grocery is synonymous with coupons. When a retailer has one customer or one employee with frequent coupon transactions in which no items are sold, it means someone is doing a price adjustment, and that some kind of negative tender is occurring. We can show them where the risk is, and what KPIs are necessary to show it.

Loyalty & Rewards Programs

Loyalty and Rewards programs offer retailers data to analyze purchase history and create personalized recommendations. This valuable program is also becoming a very fast-growing area for fraud. If an associate waits on 50 customers in a day, and 20 say they don’t have a loyalty/rewards card, the associate has an opportunity to credit the transaction to, say, his or her own loyalty card. Like a price exchange or a coupon fraud (or low-dollar transactions), this will never be accounted for by tradition- al audit practices. Analyzing a number of loyalty KPIs, however, will reveal it.

Conclusion: An Actionable Insight Strategy is Kinder

The size, complexity, and global nature of the retail industry today, coupled with the eternal human tendency to yield to temptation, mean that new varieties of employee fraud will continue to appear. In our experience, the best protection is an analysis/ business intelligence capability that can quickly recognize deviations from pattern— and possible criminal behavior. The Oracle Retail XBRi Loss Prevention solution is designed to provide actionable insight to protect your profits.

Oracle Retail’s XBRi Loss Prevention Cloud Service is the leading data analysis and exception-based reporting tool on the market. The solution identifies trends, trans- actions and other anomalies in store data, allowing users to discover and investigate irregularities in stores. XBRi includes a number of ready-made reports groceries can use out of the box or customize to suit their needs.

Friday Dec 04, 2015

Develop a Five Point Plan toward Retail Transparency

An excerpt from our new E-Book "Retail Transparency" by Michael Colpitts and Corey Gale

While retailers scramble to manage the impact of omnichannel on their operations, the way they communicate with customers, and the methods they use to promote their products and reward loyal shoppers, many have neglected to consider what will likely be the most profound change of all: the overall impact of omnichannel data transparency.

Omnichannel is destined to transform every aspect of the retail industry, including the store—its design and layout, the inclusion of mobile point- of-sale and clienteling systems, the impact of transparent inventory and what that means for fulfillment, a single view of the customer and its implications for loyalty programs, and even the physical location of stores. Retailers must stay ahead of the omnichannel curve if they expect to remain competitive in the race for customers in a commerce anywhere world, and that contest begins at the brick-and-mortar store. 

Considering the trends, technologies and desire to mitigate risk, how should retailers proceed with a commerce anywhere strategy that blends bricks with mobility? Retailers should focus on the five points below when developing plans:

  1. Retailers have spent decades trying to connect their brands with consumers, to bring them into the store. Now retailers must digitally connect and converge their physical stores with consumer devices to enable shoppers to find the brand, which requires intelligent investment in digital technology.

  2. Traditional point-of-sale is giving way to immersive engagement with shoppers from the time they are considering a purchase, through the in-store shopping and selection experience, payment and delivery. This commerce anywhere reality requires new systems and procedures inside the store.

  3. Associates must become tech-savvy consultants to consumers, elevating themselves beyond transactional interactions, which will ultimately pay dividends in the form of customer loyalty, same- store-sales and basket size.

  4. Increasingly, stores will become an intermediate stop for retail transactions. The experience will begin on the consumer’s mobile phone or tablet, continue through a mobile-device-driven consultation and selection phase in the store, and be completed on a mobile POS for the consumer to take with them or schedule for home delivery.

  5. Many retailers may be investing in technology hesitantly, while they wait to see what technology and trends will be the winners. But a smarter strategy for achieving omnichannel transparency and greater functionality is to incrementally employ cloud services to quickly and cost effectively achieve commerce anywhere goals.

Tuesday Nov 10, 2015

Elaine Turner Achieves the "D.R.E.A.M. Service Model" on Oracle Commerce Cloud

For the benefit of our global community, here is an editorial view on the Internet Retailer Webcast featuring Elaine Turner last week. 

On average, the purchase of luxury goods online is growing at a faster rate than other online sales, with North America, Europe and Asia—most notably China—leading the way. During this week’s Internet Retailer webinar series, Build Your Brand with e-commerce: Elaine Turner Extends Her Reach with New Dot Com,” Don Davis, editor-in-chief of Internet Retailer, noted that as the rate of luxury purchases online grows, so do the needs of these retailers.

That’s where Oracle’s new Commerce Cloud-based solution comes in. Launched in June, the platform recently partnered with Elaine Turner, a luxury brand based in Houston, to transform the retailer’s digital solutions. The women’s apparel and accessory company, founded by designer and CEO Elaine Turner, has a unique image—beautiful products that also have a purpose. Turner wants women to have a pampered shopping experience, but the entrepreneur also wants to give back. In order to spread her message, Elaine Turner needed to reach more women.

Before adopting Oracle’s technology, Elaine Turner’s online sales were stifled by technology that did not scale. The move to the Oracle platform provided the retailer with an scalable automated system that is user-friendly and customer centric. The new commerce platform is helping Elaine Turner expand the brand beyond its 10 brick-and-mortar stores to become a nation wide retailer.

The Oracle Commerce Cloud solution was developed at the request of Oracle clients looking for an end-to-end e-commerce solution. Retailers wanted “to keep costs low,” when it came to customer acquisition and wanted to “capture market share while responding rapidly to market and customer needs in an agile way,” said Katrina Gosek, director, commerce product strategy, Oracle. Some of the unique benefits of the new solution include the freedom for the retailer to design and layout the e-commerce site, for viewing on all digital devices, while still having the underlying platform maintained and upgraded by Oracle. Oracle provides the scale, security and foundation for innovation around the customer experience.

On the new platform, Elaine Turner has turned its focus to several areas in which to grow brand loyalists. The first is through video content. Using Oracle Commerce Cloud, the retailer is able to broadcast the reality web series “Elaine’s Big Ideas” within the site, so the viewer never has to leave the company’s web page.

In addition, Carrie Leader, director of e-commerce, Elaine Turner, said the new platform has made navigation of the site, especially when sorting products to view, more user friendly. And to capitalize on the brand’s growing social media following, the new site reflects in real-time what’s happening on the brand’s Instagram feed. And finally, the retailer has made several photos and style looks on the site shoppable by allowing a user to click on any piece of the outfit, and without leaving the page, pull up more information.

Ultimately, Elaine Turner is creating what Leader refers to as the “D.R.E.A.M. service model.” “We needed a platform that could help translate that experience a woman gets in a physical store to online, where a customer can’t touch and feel things and there is no associate to help them style.”

Already, Leader says the brand’s key performance indicators are showing great results and the company predicts strong e-commerce growth.

“With Oracle Commerce Cloud, we expect to increase conversion rates by two times,” said Leader, “and traffic between 20 and 30 percent.” Looking to the future, Elaine Turner predicts a sales increase between 50 and 100 percent with the help of the solution. Carrie Leader and her team of five non-technical resources were able to deploy the solution in less than four months with a strong partnership with Oracle. 

To replay the Webinar, register here and Internet Retailer will send details or request a demonstration of the solution. Better yet, shop to see the responsive design of the website, the multi-media content to support inventory and the stunning merchandise from Elaine Turner that is now available nationwide. Hint: this is a perfect time to starting your holiday shopping. 

Monday Nov 09, 2015

Shoe Carnival Selects Oracle Retail Customer Engagement Cloud Services

With growing sales across its more than 400 stores and e-commerce site, family footwear retailer Shoe Carnival is implementing Oracle Retail Customer Engagement Cloud Services to transform its “ShoePerks” loyalty program. The Oracle Retail solution is part of a larger strategic marketing push at Shoe Carnival, and will make it easier for the loyalty program managers to customize and enhance offers, roll out new promotions, and drive sales in stores and online.

Shoe Carnival will use the loyalty program to better understand its customers’ purchase behaviors and segment shoppers by VIP, first-time buyer, and other categories that will help to match the right promotion with the right shopper at the right time. Shoe Carnival will leverage Oracle Retail Customer Engagement Cloud Services to support key aspects of its customer marketing, segmentation and loyalty awards operations. More specifically, Shoe Carnival plans to implement Oracle Retail Customer Management and Segmentation Foundation and Oracle Retail Loyalty and Awards Cloud Services.

We look forward to Shoe Carnival’s success. Become part of the Shoe Carnival customer community, check out and take time to browse the new winter selections. 

Wednesday Nov 04, 2015

Collaboration, Creativity and Contribution: Observed Characteristics of a Successful Category Management Strategy

Author: Amber Trendell, Director of Retail Marketing, Oracle 

The Annual Category Management Conference had a strong underlying thread that weaved all of the sessions together this year and that was the demonstrable upside when retailers and suppliers collaborate. And that collaboration starts with data. Lots and lots of data. From consumer insights to store transactions, category managers have one thing in abundance and that is information. On the flip side, category managers on both sides of the fence are stretched super thin as they attempt to create compelling, localized assortments that are varied enough to make consumers feel they have the best selection and targeted enough to maximize space and revenue. 

So how are category managers successfully transitioning from tactical to strategic and delivering wins for their business? I heard three primary messages at the event this fall: Collaboration is key, Creativity is not a luxury but a necessity, and with the right strategy and tools you can clearly demonstrate Contribution to the business. Here's some additional detail:

Collaboration: when retailers and suppliers work together to identify upside and define a collaborative strategy the results can be phenomenal. Take the case study presented by Wawa and Redbull. Redbull knew empirically that Wawa lagged behind its competitors in the energy drink category and based on their projections demand for the product is on a steady climb well into the future. By working together to define a strategic goal of making Wawa the destination for energy drinks the C-store not only took the leadership role in the category but enjoyed double-digit organic growth. If we extend this concept of collaboration further to include technology and data science-as-a-service there is far more upside to be captured. Learn more about leveraging Science to Drive Profit and Differentiation in Grocery Retail here.

Creativity: it's likely safe to say that virtually everyone in retail knows that the impact of eCommerce on stores is really only in its infancy. If stores become an experience destination and media becomes the new eCommerce vehicle as predicted by Doug Stephens in his keynote session, how will category managers for products that may not translate as exciting or engaging ride the wave of store as experience destination? The answer is creativity and that is not something you can aggregate, pivot and deliver a report on. You need time to think and interact and actually go out into the field and experience your stores. So where is the time going to come from? By transitioning space optimization, consumer decision trees and demand transference analysis to a partner like Oracle you can effectively get out of the business of data crunching and into the business of experience orchestration.

Contribution: understanding the future of retail and how to capitalize (or just stay relevant) is important but where the rubber meets the road is in your ability to demonstrate lift and value to the business today. Oracle Retail has thoughtfully designed its planning and optimization solutions to align with varying degrees of business maturity particularly in respect to retail science and cloud applications. Whether you're just getting started or are ready to apply advanced retail science to your data, we have options.

Download the recent Oracle OpenWorld presentation on our planning solutions from retail expert Marc Koehler: Planning: Consumer Inspired Assortments


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