Thursday Jan 14, 2016

Keeping Pace With the Speed of Retail Technology

As retailers arrive today at NRF’s Big Show 2016, they will be met with displays of the latest, cutting-edge technology. And as each attendee embarks to fulfill unique agendas and goals, most will face the same underlying challenge: How to effectively manage perpetual upgrades to existing systems, even while layering in new business intelligence and customer facing systems. 

Now, more than ever, it is essential that retailers leverage embedded best practices and keep systems updated with the latest technology in order to maintain pace with the digital commerce world. Proof of this necessity was the role technology played in the unmatched e-commerce success of the 2015 holiday season. Retailers’ success during this busy shopping season hinged on their ability to read what was happening, in real-time, and respond quickly. For example, personalizing promotions influenced purchase decisions across mobile, online, in store and even call centers, as did visibility to inventory and the timeline for fulfillment.

And while this selling period may have only lasted nine weeks, the holidays make up a majority of the retailer’s fourth quarter sales and set the tone for the entire year. With less than 10 months leading up to the next holiday season, now is the time to assess back-end systems and make necessary upgrades well before go time.  

Upgrades can be a lengthy process, especially when working with legacy, internally developed or point solutions that are heavily customized. Vanilla is the flavor of the day.

Jill Standish, senior VP and general manager of Oracle Retail, notes that a combination of on-premises and cloud solutions offer retailers choice and the ability to make changes and complete IT initiatives faster. 

“That means keeping up with fast-changing consumer requirements and staying ahead of disruptive competition in the marketplace,” said Standish. 

Answering customers’ need for an easier way to fuel progress, the company has rolled out a complete range of its enterprise, marketing and retail-specific cloud services in Oracle Retail 15.  

Why Upgrade?

International fashion brand Perry Ellis asked that question in 2015 with Oracle Retail 14. The company first implemented Oracle solutions in 2006 to support expanding e-commerce and store operations. Then in release 12, the retailer used the systems to target pricing and promotions and grow its direct-to-consumer sales.  But over time, these systems required updates to accommodate increasingly more individualized customer services, mobile transactions and faster merchandising cycles.

When weighing the opportunity to upgrade, Perry Ellis made the commitment to deliver commerce anywhere experience in which inventory is available to fulfill customer purchases from any channel. The move also united Perry Ellis’ U.S. and European retail stores with a single global instance of Oracle Retail Merchandising System that serves both markets. Speed to value was critical to Perry Ellis, so the company teamed with Oracle and BTM Global to seamlessly upgrade its IT solutions, both online and in brick-and-mortar, in just six months. 

“The risk of doing nothing is we’ll be left behind,” said Sandeep Baghel, director of retail systems, Perry Ellis International, in an interview with Oracle. “We want to have the best IT systems available to support our business. We want to be available to customers wherever customers want us to be available. That will help us grow toward our future.”

This week at NRF 2016, Oracle is introducing the next set of innovation across the suite plus four new cloud services to give retailers access to the latest optimization and business analytics including merchandising financial planning, demand forecasting and customer segmentation solutions.  

All are part of the company’s latest release, Oracle Retail 15, which delivers cloud and on-premises solutions to help retailers more readily integrate existing legacy systems and new applications to deliver new value to the business. Oracle Retail 15 also includes updates to the Retail Reference Model featuring over 680 process flows that document industry best practices to jumpstart the implementation for retailers. 

Connect with us at booth 2521 this week at #NRF16. Learn more about demo options, networking and more


Tuesday Jan 05, 2016

Oracle Retail 15: Evolving Commerce Anywhere Capabilities

In December 2015, Oracle Retail announced the availability of Oracle Retail 15, which has been engineered to accelerate innovation and enable retailers to deliver on their brand promise through commerce anywhere. 


Retailers have embraced the vision of commerce anywhere—the ability to fulfill demand regardless of source, and delight customers with exceptional, seamless interactions with their brand. However, the path to achieving it has not always been clear. 


"We are the only provider that brings together every element required to deliver commerce anywhere, including planning and optimization, supply chain management, merchandise operations, store operations, and consumer interactions," says Oracle Retail Vice President of Solutions Management Jeff Warren. "Just as important, we deliver both the retail science and the native integrations to bind all these pieces together." 

Oracle Retail 15

Oracle Retail 15 has been engineered to accelerate innovation and enable retailers to deliver on their brand promise through commerce anywhere. Oracle Retail 15 realizes the acquisition vision with key MICROS integrations; evolves the user experience via mobility, exception management, and productivity enhancements; and extends the availability of best-of-breed retail applications with four new cloud service offerings. 


“With Oracle Retail 15, we are bringing all the pieces together, enabling retailers to interact with customers via any channel and in any capacity," says Warren. 


To advance this vision, new features and functionalities in Oracle Retail 15 include:

Acquisition Vision with Key Integrations to Oracle MICROS

  • Hardware and software engineered to work together. Our next-generation point-of-service workstation includes hardware, software, and peripherals. This new offering is prebuilt and tested to support commerce anywhere. The clean, modern, and visually appealing design reflects the modern image today’s retailers want to convey, and enables both consumers and staff to engage.
  • Native integration of Oracle Retail Xstore Point-of-Service with the Oracle Retail Merchandising suite. To support commerce anywhere, merchandising and store solutions now share the same merchandise hierarchy, item attributes, tag and label information, inventory and transaction information, and price management information. Includes new integration to Oracle Retail Merchandising System, Oracle Retail Price Management, and Oracle Retail Sales Audit.
Evolved User Experience with Mobility, Exception Management, and New Functionality to Drive Productivity
  • Omnichannel assortment planning. Connect planning and forecasting with execution across in-store, direct, and wholesale businesses—as well as across the business or within commerce clusters.
  • Automated invoice matching. New algorithms can automate matching of up to 90 percent of retail invoices. And exception-based processes allow users to handle manual matching up to 50 percent faster.
  • Automated purchase order induction. With the latest release, exception-based processes enable users to induct purchase orders in bulk and simplify mass order maintenance.
  • Demand forecasting at the category level. Go beyond item-based demand forecasting to build forecasts based on item attributes. This enables category-level planning—especially important for the grocery sector. Exception-based processing ensures that you create item-level forecasts where required.
Extend Availability with New Cloud Service Offerings
  • Oracle Retail Sales and Productivity Cloud Service. Gathers highly valuable sales and productivity information. Now, retailers can leverage that data for real-time insights into comparative sales, salesperson productivity, merchandise productivity, store sales, store traffic, and more.
  • Oracle Retail Merchandise Financial Planning Cloud Service. Identifies opportunities for more-profitable inventory investment, ensuring that day-to-day decisions align with business objectives. This cloud service will enable cross-channel and cross-organizational collaboration in the planning process using roles, plan versions, and reconciliation and approval.
  • Oracle Retail Demand Forecasting Cloud Service. This cloud service incorporates factors that impact sales, such as website launches, new stores, product introductions, price and assortment changes, and promotions. This automated and attribute-level forecasting process highlights problems or opportunities.
  • Oracle Retail Market Basket Insights Cloud Service. This new cloud service includes a retail proprietary similarity algorithm that exploits raw market basket data, exploring what items are often bought together and which are seldom/never bought together. Oracle’s data mining cloud service leverages loyalty or basket data to model SKU to SKU similarity scores derived from observing customer purchase behavior over time.

Learn more about Oracle Retail 15.

Essential details:

  • Registration Link: http://bit.ly/1TcQILw
  • Title: Commerce Anywhere in the Era of Convergence: Oracle Retail Release 15
  • Speaker: Jeff Warren, VP of Solutions Management
  • Date & Time: January 7, 2016 at 1:00pm EST
  • Product: Oracle Retail 15



This content is intended to outline our general product direction. It is intended for information purposes only, and may not be incorporated into any contract. It is not a commitment to deliver any material, code, or functionality, and should not be relied upon in making purchasing decisions. The development, release, and timing of any features or functionality described for Oracle’s products remains at the sole discretion of Oracle.


Monday Dec 28, 2015

Nordstrom Drives International and Omni-Channel Growth with Oracle Solutions

Founded in 1901, Seattle-based Nordstrom has long been known for superior service, going above and beyond to create a fantastic customer experience, and empowering employees to do whatever it takes to keep customers happy. To know Nordstrom, is to love Nordstrom. I would encourage you to explore for yourself, the Half-Yearly Sale is on until January 3rd. Below is an editorial view of the recent Oracle OpenWorld presentation. 

Today, the department store chain also leads the market in bringing customers new omni-channel conveniences. For example, Nordstrom offers not only in-store pickup of goods bought online, but also permits cross-channel returns with buy-anywhere-return-anywhere service at any of its Nordstrom, Nordstrom Rack and Haute Look outlets.

“We provide an awesome shopping experience,” David Boeschenstein, vice president of Merchandise and Supply Chain Technology for Nordstrom, said in a presentation at Oracle OpenWorld in October. “We make it convenient for the customer to shop wherever and whenever she wants to shop.”

Oracle Powers Nordstrom’s Renowned Inventory Management

Most recently, Nordstrom employed Oracle Retail Merchandising System to enable its omni-channel initiatives by giving the department store chain a full view of inventory. The company eventually extended the system to its Nordstrom Rack division and web storefronts, but it became overly customized and siloed over time—and a new push into Canada would necessitate improved integration.

“Our strategy is straightforward: to realize the strengths and advantages of One Nordstrom,” Boeschenstein said, referring to its unified omni-channel strategy. “But we were handcuffed by a system that’s overly complex [and] costly to maintain. As we entered the Canadian market, we wanted to make sure we were able to grow. We wanted to maintain the upgrade path, so we didn’t face the same situation going forward.”

Nordstrom identified several priorities to guide the Next Generation (NGEN) initiative. “We needed to make sure we weren’t just going to replace the system we have today,” Boeschenstein said. “We wanted to be able to justify any complexity. We want to stay nimble; we want to stay focused—and prioritize what’s added going forward.”

The announcement of a Fall 2014 launch date for its first Canadian store helped the team focus on those goals and go live with RMS 13.26 just nine months later in Calgary. “It helped us balance the ‘nice to haves’ versus the ‘need to haves,’” Boeschenstein said. “We learned a lot from the implementation. It was opportunity for us to evaluate what support was there, and evaluate our internal capabilities.”

Nordstrom Rack Moves to New Oracle Retail Solutions

The next phase of the upgrade—taking Nordstrom Rack stores in the U.S. to Oracle Retail Merchandising System Version 14.1—would be more complicated. The team broke the task into stages and looked to the Oracle Retail Reference Library for guidance. Rollout will ultimately require an interdepartmental approach, and has the full support of the company. “Acknowledging that this is the most important initiative in the company enabled us to get the resources we needed,” Boeschenstein said.

“The other thing we learned, and knew intuitively, is that there’s a need for early and often performance testing,” he added. “We’ve piloted a few stores, and now we’re taking a break to make sure performance is tuned correctly so we’re on track for Fall 2016.” In 2017, the company will upgrade to Oracle Retail Version 14.1 in Canada and introduce Nordstrom Rack stores there; full-price stores in the U.S. will see an upgrade starting in 2018.

“We have a great relationship with Oracle, and we really appreciate that,” Boeschenstein said. “We’re learning along the way, and applying the lessons learned. And we feel like we’re making significant strides in achieving our One Nordstrom strategy.”

For more insight to Nordstrom’s strategic use of Oracle solutions to support its expansion into Canada, see the full presentation "Nordstrom: Technology to Enable Future Growth". 

Oracle’s retail customer community is a rich resource for peer-to-peer insights to best practices and business strategies. Follow this blog in the coming weeks as we share a series of stories presented by retailers during Oracle OpenWorld 2015 in San Francisco. We invite you to learn more about the Oracle solutions used by these and other retailers worldwide, join us at the National Retail Federation “Big Show” held January 17-20 in New York City, New York, where we will demonstrate the industry’s most comprehensive suite of cloud and retail services solutions. #NRF16 

Thursday Dec 24, 2015

Fall into the Gap Inc: Upgrade to New Global Retail Systems

In the final shopping days of the year, I am proud to profile one of my personal favorites. In case you missed OpenWorld, here is a little synopsis of the recent presentation from Oracle OpenWorld.  We are thankful for the long time partnership with Gap. Personally, I would encourage you to "Fall into the Gap" to take advantage of the winter sale for last minute gifts for the procrastinators out there. Remember you can also endear yourself to a loved one who can take advantage of these awesome sales in the coming weeks. 


Launched in 1969 by Don and Doris Fisher, “the Gap” was named for the “Generation Gap” that was developing between older generations and what would become known as baby boomers. And thanks to its hip positioning and catchy Fall into the Gap jingle, Gap grew fast. In 1973, the small chain went public at $18 per share.


More recently, the company faced a different kind of gap—an upgrade gap that was threatening to make its software systems obsolete. “We were two to four versions behind in some of our Oracle systems,” said Connie Santilli, Senior Director for Gap, Inc., at the recent Oracle Open World conference in San Francisco. “When you are in that situation, every fix has to be re-engineered and retrofitted and you cannot take advantage of the capabilities of the newer versions.”


Gap, Inc. has never stopped growing, Santilli noted in the session, “Merchandising: a Foundation for Growth and Innovation at Gap, Inc.” The company acquired safari-style outfitter Banana Republic in the 1990s, and launched its own value brand, Old Navy; more recently, it has expanded into women’s athletic wear and designer apparel with the Athleta and Intermix brands. Gap, Inc. now operates or franchises more than 3,700 stores in 90 countries, and logs more than $16 billion in sales annually.


Gap, Inc. Empowers a Team with Deep Retail and IT Expertise


As its global footprint grew, the company was running three separate instances of its merchandising systems to cover North American, European and Asian markets. The company made extensive customizations to its Oracle Retail Version 10 upon implementation for North America in 2004. Europe went live with Version 12 in 2008; Asia, two years later. The highly-customized systems remained in place with multiple patches ever since.


To streamline and simplify its global IT environment, take advantage of new capabilities and set a course for ongoing upgrades, Gap realized it needed an overhaul, and fast. Together with Oracle and Infosys, the company created a plan to “de-risk” a full implementation, looking to streamline its inventory, supply chain and merchandising platforms and cut costly customizations in order to support continued growth in new markets and channels. “It’s like a new install for us,” Santilli said. “Like setting up a parallel system and firing it up.”


The plan launched in September 2014 with a new install covering Gap’s Asian markets. The deployment wasn’t easy—for one thing, stores and websites needed to stay live during a two- to three-day conversion. The team tested Oracle’s Version 14 by conducting mock deployments a week ahead of the go-live date, just nine months later.


“We took stores in Hong Kong, Japan and Shanghai, and did the installations,” said Paul Lamoureux, senior director of Enterprise Architecture for Gap, Inc. “We loaded a whole day’s data to duplicate the craziness that happens across stores, deployed it and backed it out again.”


Once deployed, the new system was a big success, Lamoureux said, delivering complete visibility across all outlets in the region. Now, the challenge for Gap and its partners is to apply that single code base in markets throughout the world to bring deliver a universal, updatable solution system-wide. Gap began deployment in Europe in the third quarter of 2015 and expects to complete it by the mid-2016; Japan will follow immediately after, and the entire company expects to be running Version 14 by mid-2018.


Gap went from an AIX environment to a Linux environment on a short timeline in Asia, noted Rick Whicker, senior director of Information Technology for Gap, Inc., and it couldn’t have been done without the dedicated, 20-person implementation team that includes IT professionals from Gap, Oracle and Infosys. “It really made the project successful in getting through the nine-month window.” Santilli applauded Oracle Consulting Services (ACS) for its attentive account management. 


“Implementing an entirely new version is a big challenge,” Whicker said. “I’ve heard of clients that were able to write a kind of conversion script to ease the transition. In our case, that was not possible.” For companies needing to implement a similar overhaul, Whicker said, “think security from day one.” Firewalls and other protections can require coordination across many departments. “Oracle Retail Version 14 is a well-written product,” he added. “But that doesn’t mean we didn’t have performance challenges. Lots of different stores and lots of different prices were a problem, but we were able to ‘tune’ the software—and most of those tuning exercises are now inside the base product.


“The Oracle code base is exceptionally stable,” Whicker said. “We were ready for hundreds of issues to come through, and we even never got close to that number. After implementation, we were stable within 30 days. And we were able to eliminate 58% of customizations, which we all know are costly.”

Oracle’s retail customer community is a rich resource for peer-to-peer insights to best practices and business strategies. Follow this blog in the coming weeks as we share a series of stories presented by retailers during Oracle OpenWorld 2015 in San Francisco. We invite you to learn more about the Oracle solutions used by these and other retailers worldwide, join us at the National Retail Federation “Big Show” held January 17-20 in New York City, New York, where we will demonstrate the industry’s most comprehensive suite of cloud and retail services solutions. #NRF16 

Wednesday Oct 28, 2015

Reporting from Oracle OpenWorld: The Road Ahead

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. Wish you were here. 

Oracle will continue to bring retailers new and more flexible capabilities expanding the integration of its more than 50 software products designed for retail, according to Jeffrey Warren, Oracle’s vice president of Solutions Management.

Warren outlined what’s ahead for the company’s retail software solutions in an “Oracle Retail Roadmap and Vision” session at Oracle Open World in San Francisco on Monday. “We’ve done some very exciting things in the last year,” he said. “We have several integrations and new products that are coming out as a result of hard work within our R&D organization.”

Customers no longer question the need for a “Commerce Anywhere” solution that helps satisfy customer demands across channels, Warren said; instead, they need assistance in implementing a solution. “As we talk to our partners, the most common question is, ‘We understand what we need to do, but can you help us create a roadmap for how we are going to do it?’ These are the products we believe are going to help get you there.”

Common Goals

Retailers’ goals are fairly straightforward: They want to better identify who their customers are, better engage with those customers, help them convert and reward their loyalty in an increasingly complicated, omnichannel environment. “We believe we have the capabilities to help you achieve these four goals successfully,” he said.

Commerce Anywhere retailers must be ready to fulfill demand regardless of the source, and Oracle’s end-to-end solution is the only one of its kind on the market. “We are the only company that allows you to manage and create everything from operational-level financial planning down to the in-store experience,” Warren said.

New analytics features from Oracle will help retailers manage features such cluster forecasting, mobile merchandising management, exception reporting, and improved XBRi loss prevention in an easy-to-upgrade package. Users can switch functions on and off simply by making a phone call. 

The system will help retailers plan across channels. “Commerce Anywhere is not just the ability to buy online and return in-store,” he said. “Oracle gives you the ability to plan, forecast and manage across all of your channels.”

And new analytics features will offer insights to help retailers streamline every aspect of their businesses. “The goal is to use science and analytics to make you successful,” Warren said. “It’s an arms race that not everyone can keep up with. We can help you get better insights into the data you already have, and make it easier for you to leverage and mine that data.”

Easy to Implement

At the same time the Oracle Retail platform is going to deliver a better, more intuitive user experience. Retailers will be able to access simplified dashboards that unlock operational data that helps them merchandise better at a lower cost, Warren said. The interface is already so simple that many retail associates can learn to operate the system in 15 minutes, and companies are skipping formal training programs.

A new mobile interface, expanded exception reporting, XBRi loss prevention, and other aspects of Oracle’s retail package are also getting upgrades and integrations. “Having 50 products in your portfolio is a challenge,” Warren said. “People expect all 50 of those products to work together. With every release, we will invest in integrating both process and product.”

Oracle will continue to invest in retail software development at a “disruptive” rate, Warren said, to offer clients enhanced flexibility and ultimately, marketplace success. “This is a platform that allows us to innovate,” Warren said. “We have over 100 active patents in retail, and this is something we are investing in for your benefit.”

Oracle will help retailers access the right solutions, he added, with attentive customer care. “When you need us, you can pick up the phone and we’re going to be there,” he said. “Our goal is to allow you flexibility of deployment. Our goal is to help you find the right fit for your organization.” 

The full presentation is posted in the Oracle Retail Rack: Oracle Retail Roadmap and Vision

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.

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


Monday Apr 27, 2015

Insights from OIC: Nordstrom’s New Canada Stores Become Testing Grounds for Enterprise IT Initiative

Last month our customer shared some fantastic experiences at Oracle Industry Connect 2015. Here is a glimpse of what you missed from the sessions....

Among its other accomplishments, Nordstrom has been a retailing technology pioneer, beating its competitors to market with customer-focused offerings including save-the-sale and endless aisle capabilities, buy online/pick up in-store, and coordinating returns between multiple stores and channels.

From 2001 until 2013, the Oracle Retail Merchandising System (RMS) served as a technology backbone for Nordstrom’s increasingly complex operations, but this required more and more customization as time progressed. When the retailer realized it was reaching the limits of customization, it initiated the Nordstrom Next Generation (NGEN) initiative, a six-plus-year program to support the company’s growth by replacing its current enterprise foundation solutions with new Oracle Retail systems offering advanced capabilities and scalability.

Nordstrom’s recent expansion into Canada is doubling as the first phase/pilot for NGEN, according to Nordstrom Director of Supply Chain and Fulfillment Brenda Glasgow, who spoke in late March at Oracle Industry Connect in Washington DC. The retailer has already opened two of a planned 10 full-line stores in Canada, with the next opening planned for fall 2015, and also plans to open its off-price Nordstrom Rack stores beginning in 2017.

The Canada expansion “gives us a chance to test, learn, and adjust with our business partners and technologists,” said Glasgow. “It’s allowing us to socialize the ‘vanilla’ implementations of Oracle solutions, and giving us practice managing the scope of these implementations.”

Nordstrom is still relying heavily on Oracle solutions, particularly in merchandising with Oracle Retail Merchandise Operations Management (MOM). This system is supporting international requirements around currencies and import/export issues, and Nordstrom is also taking advantage of new trade management and invoice matching modules that supplant older legacy applications for these functions.

Glasgow and Deby Hansen, Director of Program Management and Architecture for Nordstrom, identified key learnings from the Canada opportunity that include leveraging best practices identified in the Oracle Retail Reference Library, and using a process-led design approach that makes extensive use of personas and job roles. “By painting a full picture of a job’s process flow, it’s been easier to work through what’s been different from one system to the next,” said Glasgow. “We need to balance respecting our people’s business requirements with our motivation to stay ‘vanilla’ with these implementations.”

Nordstrom will apply these learnings as NGEN progresses, supporting long-term corporate goals that include sustaining the company’s growth, supporting its Nordstrom Rack stores becoming more of a separate entity, and “keeping us on an upgrade path that leverages our research and development investments,” said Hansen.

Congratulations to Nordstrom for their hard work and success. Nordstrom continues to impress the industry with their approach to the enterprise transformation. Read the press release or check out the presentation in the RACK to dive a little deeper. 


Saturday Jan 10, 2015

ALEX AND ANI Selects Oracle Retail to Extend Personalized Approach

Founded in 2003, American jewelry brand Alex and Ani has cultivated a loyal customer following based on careful craftsmanship, an eye toward personalization, and reliable, seamless engagement in stores and online.  Next, the retailer is upgrading its behind-the-scenes processes with Oracle Retail merchandising, planning, point of service, and warehouse management solutions. The world-class integrated suite not only catches up with ALEX AND ANI’s recent explosive growth, but also allows for plenty of “thinking big” in coming years.

“One of our taglines is that you own the story,” said George Franzino, consultant and program manager for ALEX AND ANI’s “Project Prophet” software implementation. “This is our story. We’re going to need this system really soon. It’s the power of positivity.”

In ten years, ALEX AND ANI has grown from a single store in Newport, RI, to a nationally recognized lifestyle brand. Offering bangles, necklaces, earrings, rings and charms—all designed to “adorn the body, enlighten the mind, and empower the spirit”—the omni-channel retailer has more than 40 brick-and-mortar main street stores, an e-commerce site, international sales, and a wholesale business. The company’s legacy systems, however, have been unable to handle the complexity of the multiple distribution channels. There were no planning solutions in place to provide visibility into the supply chain, and no streamlined processes that could really provide value.

The new Oracle solution, with its first “go live” in April, focuses on planning and multichannel capabilities, with special attention given to better integrating social media. Part of the brand image, Franzino said, is the customers’ sense of relationship with award-winning brand founder Carolyn Rafaelian, in addition to principles such as domestic manufacturing, sustainability, and a focus on charitable donations.

“It’s a very creative environment,” Franzino said. And that “willing to stretch” energy carried through when it came time to build the new system.

“This is really a wholesale replacement of the system we have,” Franzino said. “It really does touch everything. At the same time we’re implementing this system, we’re building the company.” The implementation involves new departments, an expansion of functional areas, and new hires; as such, it bodes well that so many in the industry workforce already are skilled at working with Oracle.

Franzino, who has worked largely with Oracle products since 2004, said Oracle was the right choice for ALEX AND ANI because of scalability and best practices. Likewise, the retailer required an enterprise system to support its business focus of sustaining excellent customer relationships and being able to provide what they want, how they want it.

“This is the execution layer of delivering on that brand promise to our customers,” he said. “This will greatly enhance that customer experience.”

For more insight to ALEX AND ANI’s cross-channel strategy, read an executive Q&A with VP of Digital Strategy Ryan Bonifacino here. (1to1 Media)

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

Tuesday May 24, 2011

Oracle Retail Merchandising Analytics Released

Today Oracle Retail announced availability of a new product called Oracle Retail Merchandising Analytics, the first of several BI applications planned for the retail industry. To further describe the product, I've asked Mark Lawrence, the brains behind ORMA, to explain the strategy and why this approach is different than what came before.


It's probably safe to say that those reading this blog are all too aware of retail's "data rich but information poor" reputation, and that today's competitive pressures are forcing the industry to compete on analytics. You can't improve on something if you don't measure it and monitor it, right?

After spending many years building a homegrown Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW) at Circuit City (eh-hem, great BI was unfortunately not enough to save the company), I was hired by Oracle to lead the creation of a next-generation BI solution for retail. One that would leverage the full Oracle BI/DW technology stack, storage-to-scorecard, yet not necessarily require that full stack. One that would be optimized for Oracle's retail apps, but designed to integrate with non-Oracle data sources as well. One that would not only address retail enterprise needs, but those of the full corporate enterprise. One that was modularized so that it could serve as a retailer's EDW or that could augment an existing EDW with one or more specialized data marts, perhaps enabling a next-gen EDW via incremental data mart implementations. One that could surface BI, properly-filtered, to the right people, at the right time, using the right delivery method whether it be mobile, dashboards, or objects embedded in a planning or operational app. One that I would have wanted to employ at Circuit City, had it been available then (reminds me of my former dream of the "BI guy" saving the company and retiring early on stock options...).

So, Oracle Retail Analytics, with the first of five planned modules just launched last month, embodies all of those things. That first module, Oracle Retail Merchandising Analytics (ORMA,) is now Generally Available, is built on Oracle database 11gR2 and includes packaged integration using Oracle Data Integrator 11g with Oracle's merchandising product family, expansive Oracle BI 11g metadata and reporting, and a data model that is based on Oracle BI Applications 11g to enable cross-domain, retail + ERP/CRM analytics.

Each module is "plug-and-play" in that it includes packaged integration with the associated Oracle Retail applications, fully physicalized data model, and Oracle BI metadata and reporting. What I really like about the strategy is the ability to choose among 5+ retail BI modules and 25+ ERP/CRM BI modules to meet the unique needs of your particular retail enterprise, yet deploy that selection on a consistent and cohesive framework, and do so incrementally if desired.

Want to combine, say, Merchandising with Customer, Loyalty, Finance and HR to turn data from Retail, Siebel, EBS and Peoplesoft into information to drive business decisions? Want to, say, compare labor costs (HR) with sales per employee (merchandising)? Perhaps you have these Oracle apps and want to include supply chain BI coverage but don't own Oracle's supply chain apps? Oracle Retail Analytics is designed to also accept data from non-Oracle sources yet preserve the majority of packaged ETL transformations (ETL tends to consume 60-80% of the effort that goes into developing a BI/DW solution, and we want to pass as much of that value along as we can regardless of data source).

What also really excites me are the possibilities when running Oracle Retail Analytics on Exadata. While we've baked-in plenty of features to enable optimization of both loads and queries on Exadata, we've been careful to ensure great performance and scalability regardless of chosen platform (Exadata is optional). Since we've had the good fortune of being able to design from the ground-up using the very best and latest Oracle tech, at times we've felt like kids in a candy store. Designing "from the ground-up" has also enabled some features that otherwise would be difficult to design in a performant manner, like "as-is/as-was" reporting for the product and organization dimensions - allowing users to account for changes to these dimensions when assessing historical performance. So, as items are reclassified, or stores open, close, or move to new regions, reporting is done based on the dimensions as they were, and/or as they are.

Using Oracle BI 11g, Oracle Retail Analytics enables more than just viewing reports. It enables deep analysis including data mining (detailed, transaction-level data is retained) and in-context and embedded actions - so we have the ability to initiate an action right from a dashboard or report. These actions can include things like triggering a workflow to order more stock, or kicking off a promotion based on events or metric thresholds being crossed. Or, they can be simple things like notifying people of key information, guiding someone to do further analysis. We call this 'Closed Loop Analytics' - because it enables closing the loop between insight and action, and Oracle Retail Analytics is designed with this capability in mind.

If you're at Crosstalk in June, attend my session to learn more. --Mark

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News and ideas about the retail industry with a focus on customers, innovation, trends and emerging technologies.




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