Merchandising operations has been called the “heart and lungs of retail,” and it’s a pretty good description. Every business team touches the merchandising foundation in some form or another, from buyers that procure the items; to the supply chain that track items; the marketers that advertise and promote them; and the channel operations, stores and websites that sell them. In the midst of all this, the ‘merch’ team makes sure the product appears in the right store or on the website at the right time and in the right inventory quantities to gain customer confidence and entice a customer to buy.
“Merchandising is the heart of our operations, in the sense that it enables us to deliver the right product at the right time to our customers, and to deliver a seamless experience between the channels.” – Bruno Mourao, Head of Business Demand and IT Architecture, Sonae
The centrality of merchandising makes it one of the most important functions in the entire operation, and it is also one of the most data-intensive, driving everything from pricing to inventory to financials. Because it’s so important there’s a natural human tendency not to want to disturb it. After all, if it’s doing what it’s supposed to do, the thinking goes, let’s leave it alone and focus elsewhere.
For that reason, retailers will often continue to rely on aging, on-premises merchandising systems long after (in some cases) they have moved functions like store operations, financials, loss prevention, and planning to the cloud. It’s not that retailers don’t recognize the potential operational and financial benefits of cloud-based computing for merchandising, it is that since ‘merch’ is the heart and lungs of the business, it can be scary to elect a system ‘transplant’.
The problem though with not making the move is that the more cherished/loathed and relied upon a legacy merchandising system may be, the more likely it has been carefully tweaked and customized to meet the requests of the users (good or not so good). The more customized it is, the harder it is to update. It’s doable — we have many good customers who use on-premises merchandising, and we gladly help them stay up-to-date — but it’s not a trivial effort, and it’s not cheap.
Nonetheless, it is essential because if the system isn’t being regularly updated, it’s getting old. The older the system gets, the more likely it is to impede growth rather than enable it — especially in the world of 21st-century retailing — where the dominant competitive strategy is focusing on the customer experience. Facilitating the needed innovation for success is, beyond the financial and operational benefits, the primary reason we encourage retailers to move merchandising to the cloud.
Cloud-based merchandising enables you to feed information — accurate, timely, consistent information — to finance, store operations, commerce, supply chain, planning, and anybody else that looks to merchandising for critical item and inventory data. It keeps merchandising modern, simple and most of all healthy.
Oracle Retail Merchandising Foundation Cloud Services encompasses the heart and lungs (or core retail operations) capabilities into a single set of cloud services.
Oracle Cloud solutions provide installation, monitoring, patching, and upgrading of the cloud services, freeing retailers to focus on innovation and more important business initiatives like the customer experience. As one of our retail customers stated, “Think cloud first and get out of the data center business.” Now is the time to enable the heart and lungs of your retail enterprise to operate at full speed into the future with our Merchandising Operations cloud services.