Crosstalk: Retail Innovation is Thriving
By David Dorf on Jun 25, 2010
At this year's Oracle Retail Crosstalk user conference the theme was "retail redefined," and Duncan Angove wasted no time looking backwards. He began by describing now as an "inflection point" where in the future we will look back and realize this was the point when our industry underwent massive changes. He then went on to showcase innovation and customer success stories.
I asked a customer that had attended previous Crosstalks how this year's ranked. He said the event gets better each year as we continue to add more customers. This year there were 124 retail executives from 63 companies. Another person pointed out that what makes Crosstalk so valuable is that its a retail conference, not a product conference. The breakouts were delivered by retailers and focused on real-world examples of solving business problems. The general session painted the strategic vision using a combination of retailer presentations, panels, and a forward-looking keynote speaker (Jeff Jarvis). I heard several times that this combination of here-and-now and what's-on-the-horizon provided tremendous value.
My favorite highlights were:
1. The iPOS demo showed how partners are innovating around Oracle Retail products. In this case, iPOS provides essentially the same capabilities as found in the Apple store, using the same iPod Touch hardware to provide a low-cost mobile POS.
2. For the last several years Oracle Retail has offered a scientific approach to analyzing retail businesses, discovering opportunities, and quantifying possible ROI. Duncan announced our intent to productize this offering so that retailers can re-run it throughout the year.
3. Intuit demonstrated their integration with Oracle Retail's POS to enable their forthcoming (next month) QuickReceipts program. Home Depot and Best Buy have already committed to the program.
4. Jon Kubo of Wet Seal described his approach to adding social media to Wet Seal's customer engagement model, including the use of Facebook, Twitter, co-shopping, and a future Facebook game not unlike popular games Farmville and Mafia Wars.
5. The Technology Trends Panel featured forward-looking companies Google, Buzzient, and Digby each of which described their innovative solutions for the retail industry.
6. Jeff Jarvis, author of What Would Google Do?, showed the audience how to think and act like Google, explaining the demise of certain industries that couldn't adapt fast enough, and citing emerging companies that are taking us in new directions.
7. Lastly, Duncan applied Jarvis' principles directly to the retail industry with a provocative demonstration of what retail could look like in the future. The Democratization of Retail, a term he coined, called for retailers to share information that allowed customers greater control over merchandising.
Clearly innovation is occurring throughout the retail industry, and I look forward to telling my future grandkids I was part of it.
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