Friday Dec 18, 2015

Ready Set Go: Last Day to Shop & Ship

Today is the big day for online shopping. The clock is ticking and the level panic is starting to rise. The Star Wars theme song looms in the back of your mind. Duuh Duuh da da da Duuh Duuh da da da. Is it the marketing and excitement of the movie premiere weekend? or do you feel that is also the theme song to your next shopping endeavor? I personally fear the comeback of the french braid and Princess Leia buns. Next week is an even bigger opportunity for carriers to join forces with retailers to make money on the art of procrastination. 

We recently hosted a panel discussion at Oracle OpenWorld hosted by Devon Hillard, co-founder of Spark::red with executives from TOMS, Furniture Row and Vitamix. After upgrading to Oracle Commerce, Furniture Row, Toms Shoes and Vitamix found that their websites were easier to manage, faster and more stable than ever before.

Oracle Commerce helps businesses build websites that suit a variety of e-commerce needs. And no matter what the company’s goals may be, Oracle Commerce provides flexible, easy-to-use templates deliver capabilities that help meet the demands of today’s customers.

Representatives from three retailers—Furniture Row, Toms Shoes and Vitamix—told how deployments of Oracle Commerce aided in their companies’ expansion and streamlined the functions required to sell products in digital channels. While the retailers had different target markets and levels of experience, each was able to realize efficiencies with Oracle Commerce.

Toms Shoes wanted to pursue international expansion while continuing to support its charitable initiatives worldwide. Longtime blender manufacturer Vitamix wanted to replace its entire e-commerce platform with a new solution from Oracle to streamline commerce across borders and channels.

And with 360 stores in 31 states, Furniture Row needed a way to command shoppers’ second screens in-store. “Our customers are in our stores using their smartphones to look things up,” said Noah Linge, director of Digital Marketing for the Denver-based chain. “We just have to make sure that it’s as easy as possible for them to do.”

Oracle Commerce handles surges in site traffic with ease, the panelists said. “You never know when the next peak is going to hit,” Linge said. “We live in an age when a celebrity can tweet about one of your pillows and of a sudden, everyone and their mom wants to see that one product. With Endeca (Oracle Commerce), it’s business as usual.”

Toms’ biggest rush begins on Black Friday and continues for four days, through Giving Tuesday. “On Black Friday weekend, we had 10,000 concurrent users and 5,000 concurrent checkouts, and the system didn’t even burp,” Fontana said. “I was using duct tape with the old systems.” And the newest convert, Vitamix, tested its site at eight times peak volume, and “barely saw a blip,” Grebey noted.

All three companies reported that Oracle Commerce produced faster, more stable sites, too—a necessity when coping with increased mobile traffic. Toms reported that Endeca doubled page load speeds, and found that faster pages produced bigger orders.

“We started digging under the hood,” Fontana said. “We started replacing our ATG pages with Endeca templates, and they fly now. We’ve also had a higher average order value; we did not expect that. We really didn’t realize what a struggle the old pages were.”

“As mobile gets bigger, that speed has to get faster and faster,” Linge added. “Everybody wants their pixel on your page, and everybody wants to track something. Our goal is to make the customer happy, and it’s a constant fight.” 

If procrastination is the reason your company may have struggled this holiday season, let's get started earlier and work together to ensure optimal results in 2016. Download a handy guide to holiday readiness. For the final days of shopping online or in-store, I say May the Force be with You. Yoda would say "Shopping, I must". 

In closing, watch this video. It will make you smile on a Friday. Duuh Duuh da da da Duuh Duuh da da da Duuh Duuh dun-dun-dun-duuuuh...

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  Our experts are standing by. 


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