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Highlights from ORUG Meetings in Minneapolis

Last month, around 30 global retail users of Oracle Retail solutions gathered in Minneapolis, Minnesota for three days to discuss top industry challenges and learn process improvements from one another. The 5th annual Oracle Retail User Group sessions, known as ORUG, was led by retailers such as American Eagle Outfitters, DTPM and Kroger. Attendees ranged from retailers in fast fashion, grocery, DIY, hardlines and more, all eager to tackle burning retail business pains around improving inventory, achieving plans and improving merchandising processes.

Discussion Areas in Retail Planning

Bill Boezinger, Merchandise Planning Systems Manager at DTPM, led the planning group’s conversations. Here were some topics that were discussed:

Why should retailers be moving to the cloud?

  • Retailers such as Orvis stated that they knew the future was moving to the cloud. “We didn’t want to be left behind, so we wanted to become an early adopter for planning,” said Gregg Alexander, Director of Merchandise Planning for Orvis

What is better - upgrading on-premises solutions or moving to the cloud?

  • One benefit to moving to the cloud is retailers are assigned a customer success manager (CSM) that works closely with them to plan continuous enhancements. Retailers can accept the solution changes every month or as they see fit, so changes are only happening when the retailer is ready, with the help of the CSM.

How are retailers using retail science applications?

  • Some retailers are using customer segmentation to cluster on customer attributes or shopping frequency.

A round-table discussion on Merchandising Financial Planning Cloud implementations

  • Retailers shared product hierarchies, planning organization structures and roles and tips on how they run their retail operations. For example, DTPM was able to move to the cloud in 15 weeks and had a great experience.

Discussion Areas in Retail Supply Chain

Lindsay Plagge, the Demand Planning Lead at Kroger, led the supply chain group’s conversations.

With over 64 customer journeys to support, it’s no wonder inventory accuracy remains a challenge for retailers. Other topics the group discussed included:

Retail challenges such as:

  • Where is demand coming from?
  • Structuring supply chains to meet customer needs
  • Bringing together separate channels into one view
  • Bridging the gap within distribution center teams - when replenishment, planning and warehouse receiving solutions don’t talk to each other.
  • Ways to optimize solutions, calculate out of stocks and forecasting best practices
    • Retailer views on inventory accuracy (industry average is 65%), the majority of attendees shared they were around 80% inventory accuracy. 

Retailers shared science innovations related to supply chain

  • One retailer will be piloting driverless car grocery deliveries
  • Another retailer uses an in-house science team that blends forecasts from a home-grown solution with Oracle Retail Demand Forecasting to create the best forecasting outcome. This innovative approach resulted in a 1-2% improvement in errors.
  • Innovations for process automation and efficiency including addressing the challenges of reducing SKU costs
  • Use of RFID tags for inventory accuracy, tracking and loss prevention
    • One retailer uses RFID tags on every item, to connect where the product is and feeds that back to planning
    • Another retailer uses RFID tags on display shoes, which saved associates time each morning in locating misplaced display shoes
    • A fashion retailer uses RFID zones (front of the store, back of the store, and the fitting room area) to better understand fitting room abandonment and purchases

Key things retailers are asking for:

  • Simplified and streamlined omnichannel fulfillment on the back of a centralized real-time view of discrete inventory
  • The efficiency of store personnel to deliver value to our customers and right size inventory across locations
  • Ways to future-proof their business

Discussion Areas in Retail Merchandising

Randy Bolette, VP of Global Logistics and Supply Chain Technology at American Eagle Outfitters led the merchandising group’s conversations.
Retailer discussions were focused on:

Wholesale, consignment and deals

  • Retailers shared how they are using consignment and challenges around using more than one SKU for an item based on when it’s returned and may be considered a consignment piece (for example if a vendor hasn’t been paid yet)
  • Another retailer shared that they may have two identical items in stock and one may be a consignment item, while the other is not, and it is tracked by in-store associates on paper.

Insights on cloud journeys throughout the retail operation

  • Retailers shared experiences around core areas they have already moved to the cloud. Areas ranged from data warehousing, product lifecycle management, retail demand forecasting, item and assortment planning, merchandising, replenishment and more.
  • Best methods and new functionality and examples of how cloud solutions are enabling retailers to decrease the window of a batch run.

Member Benefits of ORUG

I sat down with the SIG leader for the supply chain group, Lindsay Plagge, the Demand Planning Lead at Kroger, to see what value she has gained from actively being involved in the user group over the past years. “I started attending the Oracle Retail User Group meetings several years ago during a new project implementation,” said Plagge. “There is a wealth of experience and insight to be gained through ORUG, and I certainly have found value from every event I’ve been a part of.”

Plagge went on to say that, “it is not as much about sharing the ‘secret sauce’ that a company uses, but rather discussing business problems that are universal and sharing ways we have overcome those with the support of our systems and processes.” Plagge has found that the connections she’s made with retailers, as well as the Oracle support team, have been integral in her personal development over the years. She says, “even more importantly, I can help shape the future path for our company and continue to drive efficiency and positive change for my team.”

Top Reasons to Join ORUG

  • Build connections with other retailers you can call on for new insights and process improvements.
  • Meet Oracle solution management and get your pressing solution questions answered.
  • Be the first to see the product roadmap and know what is launching next.
  • Offer suggestions on product enhancements and improvements.

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