Advocating for Retailers

I just returned from the NRF's Retail Advocates Summit in Washington D.C. and learned quite a bit.  There were several issues discussed, which I've summarized below.  Of course all these are focused on the US and the positions are from the NRF (not necessarily Oracle).

Sales Tax Fairness

Retailers need clear rules on how sales tax should be collected.  The inconsistencies between brick & mortar versus pure-play online tax rules, as well as the sheer number of different taxing authorities, creates an unfair market.  Congress needs to establish fair and clear rules.

Data Security

When (and notice I didn't say "if") a data breach occurs, a retailer has to deal with 47 different rules for informing customers in different states.  We need a federal, preemptive data breach notification law so retailers can better manage the process.  And because the retailer brands are well known, they seem to bear the brunt of the criticisms when breaches occur, but actually breaches occur in many other areas as well.  We need to be sure that retailers are treated fairly within the entire ecosystem.  One last point: chip and signature is a joke.  Chip and PIN is the most secure option within EMV.

Patent Litigation Reform

We need meaningful and comprehensive reform to deter patent trolls.  The retail industry seems to be a favorite target of trolls, sending their demand letters accusing retailers of being in violation of a patent without any specific details.  Its always cheaper to pay the license fee rather than fight in court, so this amounts to extortion.  We just need a little common sense introduced, like demand letters must not be fishing expeditions, perhaps fee shifting when trolls lose in court, and perhaps faster patent reviews to revoke nonsense patents.

There were other issues discussed, but those were the top three in my mind.  Having retailers tell their stories directly to congressional staff was a powerful way make sure the impacts to retailers are known.  Since Congress will adjourn at the end of the week for their summer break, don't expect anything in the short-term.  But if we keep the pressure on, perhaps we'll see some progress eventually.
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David Dorf, Sr Director Technology Strategy for Oracle Retail, shares news and ideas about the retail industry with a focus on innovation and emerging technologies.


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