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 www.elaineturner.com 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. 

Friday Oct 30, 2015

Reporting from Oracle OpenWorld: Real-Time Inventory the Key to Commerce Anywhere

For the benefit of our global community, here is an editorial view on the presentations from Oracle OpenWorld 2015. We have had a fantastic week in San Francisco.

Whatever selling strategies retailers choose, they have to have access to what’s in stock.

Oracle OpenWorld’s retail sessions launched Monday, Oct 26, with a General Session discussing Commerce Anywhere strategies, including a case study examining how international wireless carrier and retailer Vodafone streamlined its enterprise solutions to cut integration costs and improve inventory control.

“The term omnichannel is overused and ill-defined but it captures what happens from a holistic brand perspective,” said Jill Puleri, senior vice president and general manager of Oracle’s retail global business. “All it means is how a customer can interact with your brand.”

Each brand must define omnichannel or ‘Commerce Anywhere” on its own terms, she said, by personalizing the customer experience, offering convenient options for delivery, and accepting new types of payments. But most of all, Commerce Anywhere depends on real-time visibility of inventory. “The battleground is going to be around inventory,” Puleri said.

Review the Oracle Retail Keynote from Oracle OpenWorld from the Oracle Retail RACK: Oracle Retail State of Union & General Session

Across Channels, Across the World

Commerce Anywhere isn’t only about shopping, agreed Mukesh Nakra, associate vice president of the tech consulting company and Oracle partner Infosys Limited—it’s about mastering company data and the supply chain. And businesses are eager to adopt real-time inventory systems to expand worldwide. “Everyone wants to grow global,” he said.

For example, Infosys recently helped a university bookstore chain with 1,100 outlets manage the sale, rental and exchange of textbooks, using Oracle solutions to furnish the chain with a common view of inventory and tools to forecast demand.

But integrating the solutions necessary to handle inventory and meet customers where they want to be is an ongoing challenge, Nakra said. Even a point-of-sale system can be difficult to overhaul, he said—and so, too, is winning acceptance from stakeholders accustomed to legacy systems.

Here is the link to the Infosys presentation: Infosys: The Future of Retail

Vodafone: Building a New Legacy

U.K.-based wireless company Vodafone knows these challenges all too well. With 12,852 owned and franchised shops in Europe, Australia, Africa and Asia, the company was spending as much as 70 percent of its IT budget on software integration three years ago. “Moving the needle” just a bit with an “agile” software deployment could save millions, said Paul Booth, the company’s global technology head of Terminal Logistics.

The company launched a plan to streamline its system functions, and deployed it quickly in South Africa. But in the second year, deployment to other territories stalled, and stores were clamoring for new product. “It was like a bear pit—there was the product itself, and all these dogs just yapping at it all of the time,” Booth said. “Nobody could get anything done.”

With Infosys, he launched a “9-6-1” plan to speed Oracle solution deployment in Vodafone markets worldwide in just nine months. Since introducing the plan, Vodafone has been able to streamline the delivery of inventory and improve demand forecasting for stores in South Africa, Greece, Spain and the U.K., where it delivers an average of 37,000 handsets per day.

The solution ultimately helped Vodafone slash inventories by 15 percent worldwide, and the company expects a 1 percent increase in sales this year thanks its enhanced promotion and pricing capabilities—and that’s a lot for a company with £42.2 billion ($64.7 billion) in revenues for fiscal 2015. Selling stakeholders was the biggest hurdle in the process, Booth said: “It boiled down to trust.”

Emphasizing Oracle’s built-in best practices can also help retail IT leaders to embrace a new deployment and move their companies forward, Puleri added. “This is how retailers are doing it,’” she said. “Here’s how it works now, and here’s how you can do it a different way.”

Download the full presentation for Vodafone: Vodafone: The Future of Retail “TAPaS”

Thursday Oct 01, 2015

Oracle Commerce Cloud Maximizes Retailers’ Control Over Their Ecommerce Sites

Oracle recently hosted a webcast featuring our solutions experts, Elaine Turner, Rock Creek and Object Edge. The demonstration was comprehensive and the customer interaction was informative. Here is a view of what we learned.

Two mid-sized retailers, each with big growth plans, are relying on ecommerce to acquire new customers and cement their relationships with existing ones. Both companies now have pixel-by-pixel control of their digital sites along with speed, agility, and ease of use, but without the need to “babysit” the technology, via the Oracle Commerce Cloud.

Elaine Turner, a fashion designer with 10 brick-and-mortar stores, and Rock/Creek, an outdoor gear and apparel retailer with six locations, are both early adopters of the recently released Oracle Commerce Cloud. This SaaS solution features responsive design for highly configurable storefronts across multiple devices, along with out-of-the-box features allowing online retailers to quickly customize sites, manage catalogs and inventory, and show relevant content to shoppers no matter what device they’re using.

“As a small to mid-sized business, it’s just not possible resource-wise to maintain separate strategies for desktop, mobile, and a native app,” said Carrie Leader, Elaine Turner’s director of eCommerce. “It was critical for us to have a truly, fully responsive website, so that we could implement one cohesive strategy across all devices. But we also need a lot of added features and functionality so that we can customize the design, feel and experiences on the site. Ecommerce is constantly changing, so you can’t just set it and leave it, even for six months. Because we need to push new things, we’re excited about the new releases Oracle has planned for Cloud Commerce.”

Leader, who along with Mark McKnight, director of eCommerce for Rock/Creek, spoke about their companies’ experiences with Oracle Commerce Cloud during a recent webcast. For Elaine Turner, Oracle Commerce Cloud has allowed the retailer to incorporate more video into its marketing strategy and has helped that video go viral more quickly. The result is greater brand awareness among new customers beyond the retailer’s base in Texas.

Rock/Creek’s point of differentiation is the expertise its associates can share about outdoor activities and gear. When the retailer needed to get information out about the proper way to clean a popular brand of sandals it sells, Rock/Creek used a combination of article content and a humorous Vine video on its site. “It’s become the go-to resource, so much so that when the manufacturer gets questions about care and cleaning, they send people to the Rock/Creek site,” said McKnight.

For McKnight, one of the big advantages of Oracle Commerce Cloud is that it provides Rock/Creek with a technology partner that does much of the day-to-day management of the application. “We want to be showcasing our expertise and be retailers,” said McKnight. “But because we have a lean team, every phone call and status meeting I have with a vendor takes time away from that. Oracle Commerce Cloud allowed us to eliminate several vendors and create more streamlined relationships.”

“We’re looking forward to an ecosystem where partners build other integrations, so that we’re not using our capital to build new features but to drive our customers to features that are coming with new releases,” he added.

Both Leader and McKnight also praised the speed and agility afforded by Oracle Commerce Cloud. “We can put new content out within a day, and we have more control over the website and how it affects the customer experience,” said Leader.

“We’re able to set up a quick collection, add some text and drop in a video much more quickly than we could before,” said McKnight. “We’re entrepreneurs, we want to move quickly, execute something, drive traffic to it and see if it takes. If customers don’t like it, we’ll move on to something else. The ability to ‘fail faster’ is huge, so the speed of Oracle Commerce Cloud is key for us.”

Watch the Webcast to learn more about both of these retailers’ ecommerce strategies and the functionality within Oracle Commerce Cloud. We will be showcasing the solutions at booth #901 at Shop.org next week as well. 

Wednesday Sep 30, 2015

Oracle’s Powerful Merchandise Operations Management Solutions Available on Oracle Managed Cloud Services

To reduce total cost of ownership, speed time to value, and deliver state-of-the-art merchandising solutions to a wider range of retailers, Oracle recently announced the availability of Oracle Retail Merchandise Operations Management on Oracle Managed Cloud Services.

 Oracle Retail Merchandise Operations Management is a complete suite of integrated solutions that enables commerce anywhere—the ability for customers to shop and complete transactions 24/7, whether in stores, online, at a kiosk, or from a mobile device—by seamlessly executing every phase of the merchandising lifecycle across all channels—from purchasing, to invoice matching and trade management, to allocation and inventory management.

 “This new offering enables growing retailers to compete with their larger competitors by leveraging the full power of Oracle’s gold-standard merchandising solution, while taking advantage of fast, cost-effective, easier-to-manage, lower-risk implementations,” says Oracle Retail Senior Director Lara Livgard.

Faster Time to Market, Reduced Total Cost of Ownership

 As a managed cloud service, the new offering enables retailers to leverage the full power of Oracle Retail Merchandise Operations Management, plus Oracle’s state-of-the-art hardware and middleware—all without the cost and risk associated with implementing and managing their own IT infrastructure.

In addition, the development of rapid and prescriptive implementation models speed time to value for retailers. These methodologies combine the deep retail and technical expertise of Oracle Retail Consulting and the Oracle Retail partner community, with the Oracle Retail Reference Library of best practices, business process models, architectural diagrams, and more—all based on successful retail implementations.

“Now, growing retailers can have a solid foundation to support commerce anywhere in as quickly as six to nine months instead of a year or more,” says Livgard.

A Platform Built for Growth

To deliver on the promise of commerce anywhere, growing retailers require the same visibility across their entire merchandising network as their larger competitors currently enjoy.

“By implementing Oracle Retail Merchandise Operations Management in a managed cloud environment, a new range of retailers can support commerce anywhere to compete and grow in the new retail reality,” says Livgard.

Growing retailers gain a state-of-art merchandising foundation to support growth and evolving business plans. Just as important, as both the retail environment and Oracle technology evolve, growing retailers benefit from a clear and easy upgrade path.

“Upgrades are implemented by Oracle, and Oracle Retail Consulting designs implementations that ensure that customers have all the features and functionality they need, while ensuring that upgrades are as fast and simple as possible,” says Livgard.

To learn more, download the new e-book, Five Tips to Reducing Implementation Costs and Total Cost of Ownership, which incorporates insights from the Oracle Retail community.

Wednesday Sep 23, 2015

Oracle Retail @ Shop.org Digital Summit

Needless to say it has been an exciting year for Oracle. We have enriched our community with fantastic retail brands and increased our retail expertise through acquisitions and organic growth.  Oracle is celebrating the 1st year anniversary of the MICROS acquisition on October 1st and the 10th year of the Oracle Retail brand within Oracle.

On September 17th Oracle Retail SVP and GM, Jill Puleri and VP Strategy and Solutions Management, Jeff Warren provided a detailed progress report on our integration of retail solutions and our roadmap. If you happened to miss the event, send us an email oneretailvoice_ww@oracle.com to request a link to the archive.

Next up we will kick off the annual Shop.org event on Monday, October 5th with a cocktail reception on the exhibition floor. We will be showcasing our customers’ brands and success across our booth and throughout the attendee lounge. This year attendees can expect to see multiple demonstrations at booth #901. You will find our booth to the left of the center entrance of the exhibit hall. 

Available solutions:

  • Generate more revenue with every customer engagement by differentiating your brand and orchestrating innovative buying experiences with Oracle Commerce on premise or in the cloud.

For your convenience we also have a sponsorship of the NRF attendee lounge where you can grab a table for a chat or a charge for your smartphone.  We have enlisted the right staff to help you answer questions and explore the potential of a converged, commerce anywhere world.

In addition to our event on opening night, we are hosting a networking reception at the stunning headquarters of Urban Outfitters. Retailers can register for the reception here.  This event is sponsored by Cirrus10 and Rackspace. You can also email me to request a spot at this exclusive event or book a demonstration on-site.

There are over 146 retailers attending Shop.org. Many of these are customers and friends of Oracle Retail. NRF expects about 4,500 attendees across the industry from retailers to influencers, media and the vendors who support them. If you have not registered, please note that retailers are eligible for a Free Expo Hall Pass.  http://summit15.shop.org/free-pass

Holler if you have questions, my team and I are here to help.  We look forward to seeing you in Philly. 

Friday Sep 18, 2015

Advanced Science SaaS Offerings to Drive Profit and Differentiation with Category Management

Customers are king in today’s evolving retail industry, demanding tailored shopping experiences and instant gratification. Retailers have responded by creating highly localized assortments across varying store formats and locations, making efficient and profitable execution extremely challenging. In response, Oracle Cloud solutions do more than just capture vast amounts of data—they integrate data, combine it with foundational best-practices scenarios, and deliver realistic, actionable recommendations in an easy-to-consume format.

“As consumers become increasingly empowered, retailers are much more likely to lose sales when customers cannot find items on their shopping list,” says Oracle Retail Solutions Director for Planning and Optimization Marc Koehler.

In July 2015, Oracle launched three new software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings that go beyond traditional optimization tools to help retailers quickly create and execute profitable, localized assortments based on advanced, actionable retail science.

“The new cloud offerings enable retailers to quickly adopt advances in retail science with lower risk and costs. Retailers can utilize transaction-level information throughout their planning process to gain actionable insights and recommendations, enabling them to drive out customer-centric and targeted store assortments,” says Koehler.

The new offerings include:

Fast, Modular Adoption

Oracle Cloud solutions remove much of the cost of adoption, from hardware to databases, which is vital in an industry with margins as narrow as those in retail. Just as important, retailers can get up and running—and achieve value—much more quickly, a key benefit given the rapidly changing, competitive landscape in retail.

The cloud-based solutions also allow retailers to expand their retail science capabilities in a much more modular manner, quickly adopting new solutions only as needed. At the same time, the cloud model speeds and simplifies upgrades.

“You can begin by adopting foundational capabilities, and then add new layers of retail science as needed,” says Oracle Retail Senior Director of Technology Solution Management David Dorf. “And you can take advantage of Oracle’s latest innovations much more quickly.”

With Oracle Retail solutions, retailers can utilize a combination of purpose-built retail science and automation to drive out customer-centric and targeted assortments. Retailers can define an action plan to optimize assortment and inventory investments by enabling a 360-degree view of the market, customers, competitors, and vendors—with fact-based starting points that maximize available time to plan product categories.

To learn more, download the e-book, Use Science to Drive Profit and Differentiation by clicking www.oracle.com/goto/sciencetodriveprofit

Thursday Jun 04, 2015

IRCE 2015: Retailers Ramp Up for Holidays with Cloud Solutions and Fine Tuning

This week we spent time in Chicago showcasing the latest in our Oracle Commerce solution, our new Oracle Retail Cloud Services for omnichannel and the Oracle Retail Xstore solution at the Internet Retailer Conference and Exposition. Thanks for spending time with us. We had such a great turnout both days of the exhibition. We also hosted several retailers and had great conversations at our networking dinner with Rackspace and McFadyen.  With our ear to the ground, here is what we heard from the community. 

The holidays are a retailer’s best chance to maximize sales, profits, and positive customer impressions.  Orchestrating a successful season requires a steady rollout of new features and functionality as consumers’ descend on e-commerce sites, turn to mobile devices and shop nearby stores.

While each retailer’s holiday readiness agenda differs depending on factors such as its size, product assortment and customer base, a good rule of thumb is to focus first on the digital experience. According to the National Retail Federation’s report on holiday 2014, 56% of consumers surveyed prior to the season said they planned to shop online, up from 51.5% in 2013 – the highest figure in the survey’s 13-year history. The average person planned to do a significant 44.4% of their shopping online, the most since the question was first posed in 2006. These consumer intentions were borne out by the season’s sales results. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, non-store sales grew 6.8% for holiday 2014 to $101.9 billion, accounting for 16.5% of the total holiday sales figure of $616.1 billion. We believe that 2015 will also bring good fortune. 

Sophisticated tools sharpen customers’ digital search and purchase experiences, and new features bring the best of online shopping into the physical store. E-commerce is not just a significant shopping channel but a primary customer interaction vehicle. Internally, e-commerce platforms increasingly serve as a key interaction point for major systems such as inventory management, merchandising operations, loyalty and rewards programs, customer service and call center applications, promotions and recommendation engines, and the point of sale. 

Question: Can retailers prepare for the holidays with technology solutions that add value quickly to differentiate the experience in-store and online?

Answer: Yes. The advent of retail-specific cloud-based solutions that are implemented in the space of weeks rather than months, such as Oracle Cloud Services for e-commerce and retail, make this not only possible but practical. Cloud services enable retailers to prepare for any number of peak sales opportunities throughout the year. For apparel and office supply retailers, back-to-school is its own holiday season; for home and gardening retailers, spring is their prime growth season. With the accelerated deployment schedules and more frequent upgrades made possible via cloud-based solutions, retailers can test out a new solution during one peak season, then refine and customize it for the next one.

Question: What can I do to prepare for the holiday season now? 

Option 1: Search Tuning. Search tuning is a dynamic process as your business needs and data are in a constant state of change. Search tuning should be conducted on a regular basis. The Oracle Endeca application provides optimal results for specific keyword search to maximize conversion rates increasing revenue. The recommended tuning exercise is a two week workshop with Oracle Commerce Consulting tailored to your specific  mplementation and business. 

Option 2: Performance Tuning. The testing and tuning is an iterative process. The key is to discover the balance between all the different levers to optimize the performance and scale of your site through a series of engagements. A load and performance test will identify opportunities to brace and optimize in a peak trading period. Understand your site performance and functionality today. Evaluate your business planning requirements to understand the site capacity. 

The bigger question is....

Are you ready for an upgrade? Are you taking advantage of the latest and greatest functionality within the Oracle roadmap?  

In an effort to achieve new competitive advantage while lowering total cost of operation, you may consider upgrading your online commerce applications to make use of features and improvements available.  Managing a software upgrade is a complex process. Obtaining buy-in from your stakeholders, understanding the timescales, and estimating the risks involved in upgrading your commerce installation is challenging at the best of times. Making this decision in a climate of budget cuts requires a compelling and thorough business case which takes into account benefits, risks and commercial impacts. 

Focusing holiday readiness and peak trading efforts on the digital experience helps customers move seamlessly from device to device as well as between physical and digital locations. When their experience isn’t seamless – for example, when a shopper can’t use online rewards in a store, or the call center operator isn’t able to call up transaction histories – the customer experience markedly suffers. Customers don’t care about the back-end challenges retailers face with cross-channel coordination; they just know that they want their interactions to be consistently relevant, personalized, and contextual to their location and the device they are using.

Cyber Monday November 30th is 179 days away. What can you do today to get ready? Let us know if we can help you prepare for the holidays. Email us at oneretailvoice_ww@oracle.com.  Our experts are standing by. 

Tuesday May 19, 2015

Insights from OIC: ULTA Beauty Fuels Growth with Tech-Enabled Personalization and Participation

In March several of our customers shared some fantastic experiences at Oracle Industry Connect 2015. ULTA beauty was showcased as the keynote. We thought this story would be relevant as we approach the Internet Retailer Conference and Exposition in Chicago on June 2-4, 2015.

Here is a glimpse of what you missed from the sessions....

ULTA Beauty is a favorite success story among industry watchers. The retailer is growing fast, offering a wide variety of beauty products (including cosmetics, fragrance and hair products) at price points ranging from mass to prestige, and also combining its beauty superstores with on-site salons. ULTA also believes in the uniqueness of each of its customers/guests, emphasizing personalization and participation fueled with online, mobile, and in-store technologies.

The 774-unit chain has opened approximately 100 stores per year for the past two years and is continuing this expansion rate for 2015. The retailer’s fast-growing e-commerce business benefited from 2013 site improvements using Oracle Commerce (formerly Oracle ATG and Oracle Endeca) solutions. Home, category and product pages now feature product metadata and easier access to user reviews, along with offering ULTA guests the ability to check available inventory of specific products at the store/salon they’re planning to visit.

New online enhancements include more shoppable “haul” videos, according to David Kimbell, Chief Merchandising and Chief Marketing Officer of ULTA Beauty, who along with CIO Diane Randolph discussed ULTA’s strategies at Oracle Industry Connect 2015.

“Guests can click on products to buy while watching video content, which is a great way to organically get people engaged with our business,” said Kimbell. “We’ve also launched live interactive chats with entrepreneurs and trend experts, which are supported with rich content linked back to the site for more detailed information and authority-building content.”

ULTA has also enhanced its mobile commerce capabilities, with an iPad-optimized site offering new ways for guests to share and engage via social media. “Guests can share things they’re interested in, including products, trends, and new looks – including a haircut she particularly liked at one of our salons,” said Randolph.

E-commerce is also helping to build store traffic, with the recent addition of the ability for guests to schedule salon appointments online. ULTA has also seen an uptick in the number and types of salon services guests are opting for when they can see them online prior to the appointment.

A pilot clienteling program puts iPads in the hands of ULTA associates in a few of its stores. The program builds on ULTA’s loyalty program, which already includes 15 million active members. “Something like a makeup consultation or brand preferences can be easily recorded on an iPad,” Randolph explained. “If it’s a guest already in our system, the associate can bring up their purchase history, and it’s also easy to enroll her in the loyalty program if she’s not a current member. We can list the guest’s concerns, and those are shared across all channels, so if she goes to another one of our stores, that information is available. We can also alert people about in-store events with our vendor partners.”

“This requires our associates to be ‘front and center,’ but it also helps our goal of being the beauty connection for our guests,” said Kimbell. “Our goal is provide value at every touchpoint – in stores, on desktops and via mobile technology.”

For more insights from OIC, see the remarks by Nordstrom and watch here for more Oracle customer stories. For more on ULTA’s transformation, click here.

We encourage you to demonstrate the Oracle solutions and see the ULTA vision come to life at www.ulta.com or visit a store near you. Oracle Commerce and Oracle Retail Xstore will also be available for demonstration at booth #709 during the IRCE conference on June 2-4, 2015 in Chicago.

Tuesday May 12, 2015

Insights from OIC: Oracle Helps Retailers Turn Today’s Most Disruptive Trends to Their Advantage

In late March, retail executives gathered at Oracle Industry Connect 2015 to share perspectives. Here is a glimpse of what you missed from the sessions....

Retailers at the recent Oracle Industry Connect sessions talked about numerous “forces of disruption” that are changing their business and creating new opportunities.  Setting the tone for two days of presentations by retailers, for retailers, Jill Puleri, Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Oracle Retail Global Business Unit, talked about what retailers are doing to thrive in the midst of new market opportunities.

The most disruptive forces, said Puleri, are often consumer-driven and offer subtle but important insights.  Among them:

● People using their mobile devices differently: “Instagram has a 25% greater engagement rate than Facebook, which tells you that visual is more engaging than text on these devices,” said Puleri.

● Greater willingness of consumers to reveal where they are to third parties: “People are using Uber to hail a cab, which says the ‘creep factor’ about revealing their locations is lessening,” she said. “That’s important because people are keeping their mobile devices within one meter of their body for 23 hours a day.”

● However, people are still wary about data breaches, which have not been limited to retail but have spread to health care and other industries.

● With same-day delivery, “Amazon has set the bar,” said Puleri. Even though the e-tailer loses money on many of its lower-value shipped orders, it has raised consumer expectation levels about service. In addition, the growth of third-party companies handling the “last mile” of delivery have the potential to disintermediate the customer’s loyalty to the retailer. 

Puleri revealed results from New Consumer Study: Retail Without Limits that surveyed 5,000 consumers in 10 countries: 83% insist on the adoption of new technology by retailers, “Because they want to use that technology in their shopping process,” she said. “In addition, 70% rate stock transparency to be very important in e-commerce. Consumers don’t understand that this is a hard thing for many retailers to accomplish; they just want it. And 50% of respondents expect to use their mobile devices for product research, which points to the need for responsive design” that provides optimal experiences on different mobile devices.

More than 160 Oracle customers shared their success stories at OIC. Apparel retailer Lilly Pulitzer’s CIO Keary McNew revealed that Oracle helped the company implement responsive design for its e-commerce offerings last year, and that the retailer would launch a new mobile app for iOS integrated with the Oracle Open Commerce platform in May 2015.

For sports apparel retailer LIDS, the Oracle Retail Locate solution provides visibility into 800 of its stores’ inventories to the retailer’s e-commerce website, and also gives in-store associates tools to find items on the shelves at other stores, and also to arrange for these items to be shipped to different stores or to customers’ homes, according to Vice President of Information Technology Larry Havlik.

Offering these customer-friendly services can create additional challenges to how retailers operate. “In many cases, process changes are harder than technology,” said Puleri. When instituting ship-from-store, for example, “questions arise such as, Where do stores get packing material? What happens when someone cancels an order? Oracle is documenting these processes from retailers all over the world.”

In other remarks, Mike Webster, SVP and General Manager of the Retail and Hospitality Global Business Units at Oracle Webster noted that in addition to its technology offerings, Oracle has deep retail expertise that it makes available to customers. “Omni-channel is an enterprise opportunity that involves getting to a single enterprise view of inventory, customers, orders, price, and promotion,” said Webster. “Focusing just around the edges won’t help: the conversations now are about what retailers need to be thinking about in planning, supply chain, e-commerce, point-of-sale, business intelligence, and customer engagement to support omni-channel. We’ve built that out into our Oracle Retail Reference Model.

“That’s important because ultimately omni-channel isn’t about channels, but about how we bring the power and the process of the entire organization to deliver a differentiated customer experience,” he added.

Dive into the research a little further: Read the full research report

Tuesday Apr 21, 2015

Aerosoles Taps Responsive Design, Omni-Channel Fulfillment to Boost E-Commerce Performance with DMI

From Amazon to Zappos, shoe retailers vie for consumer orders and Aerosoles is gaining ground by keeping loyal fans happy and winning new ones with a modern e-commerce experience and a tightly-integrated fulfillment strategy. In a press release with partner DMI, Aerosoles executives share insight to creating a “future-proof omnichannel” platform that has grown e-commerce sales using Oracle Commerce, Responsive Web Design and cross-channel fulfillment.

Aerosoles completely overhauled its ecommerce operations in 2014, took steps to improve the customer experience and tapped its stores and warehouses to get orders in the hands of shoppers efficiently.  Retail news magazine Retailing Today covers Aerosoles’ e-commerce initiative here, noting that the retailer promptly delivered a record performance on Cyber Monday. 

Enhancements focused on both the front-end shopper experience and the cross-channel fullfillment operations behind the scenes. First, higher-resolution color and images, state-of-the-art search and cleaner checkout were employed as part of Aerosoles’ new Oracle Commerce platform. Whether consumers sign on with a mobile device or with a personal computer, the Aerosoles ecommerce website responds immediately with a format that performs well and is easy to navigate. This Responsive Web Design feature, Oracle Commerce enhanced dynamic search and guided navigation, and site mapping and SEO capabilities are designed to deliver more overall site volume and sales.

Aerosoles supports the customer experience with some astute back-end strategy. E-commerce transactions are fully integrated with stores and warehouse locations for fulfillment to the customer quickly, effectively and with an eye toward balancing inventory availability. Call center integration with DMI OrderSync OMS ensures customer service and sales associates can readily help with orders, add-ons, returns, cancellations, backorders and customer service.

According to DMI, Aerosoles’ mission was to “provide an atmosphere that optimizes its customers’ shopping experience not only online but through all sales channels.” An omnichannel commerce and retail data integration strategy delivers a seamless experience for Aerosoles customers across online, mobile, call center or in-store shopping.

For a closer look at Aerosoles in action, shop the new website and enjoy the spring and summer collection! 

Thursday Jan 29, 2015

Lenox Launches eCommerce Transformation with Oracle

As we talk with new and long-standing customers of the Oracle Retail community, we truly learn their perspectives on IT priorities and the role of technology in their business strategy. E-commerce projects are on warp speed as retailers gear up and prepare to use technology platforms for omni-channel promotions and fulfillment. 

Venerable luxury tabletop brand Lenox, which sells not only its namesake lines (Lenox, Dansk, and Gorham) but also designers kate spade new york, kathy ireland HOME, Marchesa and more, is among those tapping the latest commerce technology to keep pace with customer expectations. In a recent phone conversation, Lenox CIO Erik Andersen talked about the major e-commerce transformation underway at the company, and he emphasized a focus on revitalizing the brand, improving promotion strategy and enhancing the customer experience.

 “As we evaluated where we are today and where we are going next as a company, we recognized the need for a world class e-commerce site that would enhance the entire customer experience and accommodate mobile, tablet and desktop to capture demand and execute the sale,” said Erik Andersen, CIO of Lenox. “By replacing a transactional, order management approach with a proactive and comprehensive marketing and promotion strategy, we are able to work smarter, get ahead of the curve and offer better promotions to our customers. We are also showcasing our enhanced brand image,” said Andersen.

Lenox produces its premium fine china patterns at the only fine bone china factory in the U.S., where it leverages its own marketing and design, sourcing and fulfillment, and is a top wholesaler to Macy’s, Bed Bath and Beyond, Belk, Dillard’s, and other major department stores, as well as Amazon and QVC. Lenox also sells direct through e-commerce, catalog, telemarketing and a chain of retail stores primarily located on the east coast.

This new e-commerce investment helps Lenox improve its business processes and gain efficiencies. The availability of insightful data makes it possible for marketers to develop personas, conduct market segmentation, and deliver meaningful promotions to better manage the business. The company also uses Oracle JD Edwards financials and a Manhattan Associates solution in its warehouse.

“Within a very short time, everyone on the team knew the site was looking exactly the way it should. We have strict goals for revenue lift. What I’m looking for is enhanced data and analytics. Oracle Commerce will help us gain a better understanding of our customer, better inventory turns and margin management,” said Andersen. “Working with Oracle partner Speed Commerce assured us that we would be up and running quickly with no issues.”

“As part of the RFP process we looked at R&D investment, and Oracle is second to none. We wanted to be able to stay the course and Oracle is making the right investments which gives us a lot of confidence that the platform will keep pace with changes and enhancements,” he added. “We already use Oracle Endeca in our current e-commerce environment and we will stay with that while going to the full Oracle Commerce platform. We will enhance search engine optimization and provide a more organic search experience as our online commerce business continues to grow,” said Andersen.

Congratulations to the entire team at Lenox for the transformation now underway! Welcome to the Oracle Retail community. 

Shop. Explore. Experience. Oracle Commerce @ http://www.lenox.com

Wednesday Nov 26, 2014

TOMS Leverages Oracle Commerce to Expand OneforOne in Multiple Directions

Last month, TOMS presented at the Oracle OpenWorld 2014 conference. As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, retailers like TOMS remind us we have many blessings to be thankful for. We also have the opportunity to help the less fortunate as we shop this holiday season. 

TOMS, the socially conscious retailer that donates footwear, eye care, and fresh water based on customer purchases of shoes, sunglasses, or coffee has been on a multi-directional expansion path over the past 18 months. Since its adoption of the Oracle Commerce platform in 2013, the retailer has launched e-commerce sites in the Netherlands, France, and Germany, and then migrated its U.K., U.S., and Canada sites to the new platform in 2014. The impressive total: six sites, four languages, and three different currencies.

Nor is TOMS simply staying put: Global Vice President Hilda Fontana, in remarks at the recent Oracle OpenWorld conference in San Francisco, said Australia, Latin America, and other European countries will be rolled out using the same e-commerce platform by as early as 2015.

The retailer prizes not only the strong customer experience that the Oracle Commerce platform allows them to offer but also the flexibility to experiment with unconventional business models. In addition to its own “One for One” initiative, which provides eye care for children in developing countries and fresh water for each bag of coffee purchased, TOMS has also sought to empower other socially conscious companies and entrepreneurs. That was the impulse behind the creation of Marketplace, which was introduced late last year to provide a platform on the Toms’ website for more than 200 products offered by 30 different companies. TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie has called Marketplace the best way to introduce other inspiring products to Toms’ engaged community.

In her remarks, Fontana discussed how re-platforming to Oracle Commerce for TOMS’ global, multi-site architecture gave the company room to grow. TOMS gained the ability to enter a product once and leverage Oracle’s translation and multi-site features to merchandise the product for all markets, as well as robust catalog management capabilities across multiple sites and countries. In addition, because TOMS has been able to integrate its order management systems, product updates are seamless and customers have a real-time view of available inventory as they shop.

To view Fontana’s Oracle Open World presentation, click here: TOMS: Case Study

To experience Oracle Commerce @ Work shop here: www.toms.com and explore the new points program.  

Tuesday Nov 11, 2014

Office Depot Makes the Complex Simple with E-Commerce Search

Office Depot, Inc. reigns #1 in E-Commerce Search Engine Usability for office supply retailers and #8 overall among the top 50 e-commerce retailers (Baymard Institute). By steadily innovating to improve search and provide more personalized recommendations, Office Depot has made it easier for customers to take advantage of its full breadth of products and services online and via mobile devices.

Serving a complex and loyal customer base that includes a wide variety of large corporations, small and medium-sized businesses as well as individual consumers, Office Depot offers the perfect mix of nearby locations and online convenience. The retailer operates more than 2,000 Office Depot and OfficeMax stores in the U.S. and Europe, and its combined web sites rank it among the top 5 e-commerce retailers in the 2014 Internet Retailer 500

At the heart of Office Depot’s Customer Experience (CX) strategy is a complex merchandising operation that ensures that each business and consumer enjoys a world-class customer experience, no matter when, where and how choose to shop. The company places over 100,000 products and services at it’s customers’ fingertips, with selections ranging from technology, core office supplies, print and document services, business services, facilities products, furniture, and school essentials.

Office Depot is focused on making a wide assortment of products and services easy for its customers to access, and convenient to shop. To render the complex simple and deliver faster, more personalized search and recommendations, Office Depot recently upgraded its e-commerce search and recommendation engine with Oracle Commerce Experience Manager.

Speaking earlier this year from Oracle OpenWorld, Office Depot senior e-commerce analyst Scott Headberg said the retailer upgraded its systems to meet its  stringent business requirements, including the need to accommodate unique merchandising rules to ensure that the right product assortments and promotions reach every shopper at OfficeDepot.com.

In addition, with the e-commerce update Office Depot and OfficeMax customers can continue to enjoy a personalizedshopping experience with secure access to their purchase history and product preferences.  Ultimately, the Oracle system serves as a single e-commerce platform supporting Office Depot’s consumer, business-to-business and international divisions.

Customers enjoy the benefits of a commerce site that seems to know just what they want.  With the recent changes, Office Depot makes it easier for customers to take advantage of its full breadth of products and services online, via mobile and using the tablets and kiosks that extend each store’s offering.

The Oracle Commerce user interface is straight-forward and easy to integrate, making it possible for merchants to directly shape and control the user experience.

“These tools, put in the right hands, allow for more successful promotions that are designed for specific regions and categories,” said Headberg.  “We are empowering our merchandising teams to achieve their goals, while taking some of the burden off of the development team.”

Office Depot collaborated with Oracle and RealDecoy, an Oracle Gold Partner specializing in end-to-end Oracle Commerce solutions for retailers and manufacturers, to help manage this highly sophisticated implementation and ensure that the retailer met all of its business objectives.  The result is an easy, intuitive experience for customers to shop via mobile device, tablet or desktop computer.

The upgraded e-commerce environment has helped to establish a new reality in which business users are simply more self-reliant, says Headberg. It helped to end an era in which development staff were required to help create landing pages, code promotions, and update content.   Today, business users leverage the Oracle application to fine-tune the customer experience, personalize search results and recommendations, and adjust promotions in real-time.

In other news: Office Depot is among the first to accept Apple Pay. (Wall Street Journal

Shop. Explore. Demo. Oracle Commerce @ Work: www.officedepot.com 

Tuesday Oct 28, 2014

Oracle OpenWorld 2014: The Pace of Change for Retailers

At the center of change in retail are the 9 Billion devices now connected to the Internet – a number predicted to go to 50 Billion in fairly short order.  Beacons and other location devices are a disruptive force for the retail industry, and they completely change how retail experiences are built. The proliferation of mobile devices, among shoppers and store associates, opens up new ways to tell customers where inventory is, where can they get it, at what price, and it invites a whole new set of competitors.

Welcoming retail executives, partners and industry experts to the Retail Experience @ Oracle OpenWorld 2014 in San Francisco, Oracle Retail Senior Vice President and General Manager Mike Webster said that the rapid pace of change being driven by mobile and other influences will not slow anytime soon. It’s one of many reasons retailers are suddenly looking to accommodate a higher velocity of data in a variety of different formats.

“Big data is not big news in retail but we are having to solve problems around the velocity and the variety of data,” said Webster. “How do we bring in social interactions and marketing interactions together, to give you a more unified view of the entire customer engagement. We are a mobile world, with 6 billion mobile subscribers.”

In retail today, there are tons of investments across social, mobile, analytics and cloud. Seven out of ten companies don't know their current stock position. Retailers must return to the basics. The biggest item on retail balance sheet is inventory. Transparency is the key to shift inventory closer to customers to impact the bottom line and satisfy the consumer.

To help retailers succeed, Oracle “spends more on R&D than any other solution provider in the industry, and the most basic element of what we are creating is to make sure you reach customers where you need to, that you are able to hit the basics and innovate. Our focus is building the best solutions for retailers,” said Webster. During his keynote, Mike Webster took the opportunity to share the highlights built into our upcoming release coupled with the unique capabilities that MICROS adds to the footprint.

Our success is measured in terms of customer results. Oracle Retail saw great success with vanilla implementations and this trend reflects all of the work done to fine-tune retail functionality across the Oracle Retail suite of applications. With the introduction of version 14 and the work with world-class partners, we have allowed customers to focus on the business opportunity with less complexity, customization and integration from the implementation process with best practices built into the solutions.

Customers including Hot Topic, Kohl’s, Gordmans, and Zenni Optical are just a few of the retailers benefiting from recent implementations of Oracle’s robust, mature retail solutions. Customers should continue to expect us to take out complexity and take out cost, Webster added.

The Retail Experience @ OpenWorld 2014 presentations are available in the Oracle Retail virtual community. Log in to the RACK to review the presentations from the retail track.  

-  Commerce Anywhere: Retail Innovation
-  ULTA Beauty: Improving the Customer Experience with Oracle Commerce
-  Inventory Management for Commerce Anywhere with Dubai Duty Free
-  Running Oracle Retail Applications on Oracle Systems with Kohls
-  TOMS: Oracle Commerce Case Study
-  Retail Analytics: Creating Value from Insight
-  How Two Brazilian Retailers Linked Shopping Across Channels with Oracle Commerce (Part 1)
-  How Two Brazilian Retailers Linked Shopping Across Channels with Oracle Commerce (Part 2)
-  Retail Trends: An Oracle Perspective

Monday Oct 27, 2014

PureFormulas’ Personalization Journey – Notes from Shop.Org 2014 Summit

Earlier this month, the Oracle Retail team divided its time between Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco and the Shop.org Summit in Seattle.  Over the next few weeks, we will bring you retailer insights gleaned from both events.

This year’s Shop.org Summit was, in many regards, a study in leveraging digital platforms to personalize each customer experience. Among those offering ‘lessons learned’ was Daniel Moure, chief marketing officer for consumer vitamins and wellness retailer PureFormulas, who discussed his company’s recent progress as part of the panel discussion “Time to Get Personal on the Customer Journey.”

Central to making each customer experience better, said Moure, is the company’s recent migration to a new e-commerce platform from Oracle Commerce. The Oracle platform provides PureFormulas’ marketing team with industry-leading tools to personalize the customer experience through a series of levels, from the awareness of getting a customer on to its site to adding returning customers to its loyalty program, and each step is based on insights gleaned from customer data.

As part of the panel dialogue, Moure admitted that corralling all that data had at times been tough, but ultimately worth it.

“We had data all over the place,” said Moure. “Aggregating the data, looking at it, slicing it and dicing it, that takes a lot of resources and energy. Once you have even a little bit of data and you know who your customers are, then the goal is to make the experience easy, help customers choose what they want and make the whole process smooth and streamlined.”

PureFormulas is still at the beginning of its journey into the personalization process and the project and tools continue to evolve. “We started small, made the assessments and assumptions that we’re almost certain are correct and from there, started drilling down deeper,” said Moure. “We’re already starting to see some results from the very basic personalization tests that we’re doing.”

In the end, the measurement of success for PureFormulas is how many shoppers convert to buyers.  By looking at the data through a new lens, the company can link conversions to attributions of the personalization funnel they have developed. From a conversion in the middle of a first time site visit, to acquiring that customer as a loyalty program member, Moure stressed the importance of making sure that the choices presented to the customer are efficient and effective. 

“The final measure is making that conversion and generating revenue along the way,” said Moure.  “We’re tracking adoption of the tools and products we’re putting out there and hopefully all of them are useful. With the right platform and tools, you can make that experience extremely flexible for customers.”

Read more about PureFormulas’ personalization journey in Internet Retailer’s ‘Going for Growth’ article. For more Shop.org insights, check out Shop.org Summit Articles from the National Retail Federation.

Shop. Explore. Demo. Oracle Commerce @ Work:  www.pureformulas.com 


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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