Wednesday Mar 26, 2014

Deckers Outdoor and Scheels All Sports reveal secrets to in-store engagement

Reporting today at Oracle Industry Connect in Boston, guest blogger Adam Blair captured insights from retailers:

Providing store employees with both the training and the tools to enhance the customer experience are critical to making the brick-and-mortar store a true point of differentiation, according to executives from Deckers Outdoor and Scheels All Sports who participated in a panel discussion moderated by Stores Editor-in-Chief Susan Reda at Oracle Industry Connect for Retail here.

“We focus on training our sales associates to provide a great experience, and that kind of customer service training includes how to ask questions and how to interact with customers to find out what they are really looking for – and how to translate what the customer is saying into a product they would want,” said Marc Windahl, Vice President of IT at Scheels. The retailer also turns its 25 stores into destinations for the entire family: “Eight of our stores have Ferris wheels, and many have features such as miniature bowling alleys and golf simulators,” as well as restaurants and coffee shops featuring multi-flavored fudge made on-site, Windahl added.

A retailer’s corporate structure is also critical, according to Kim Heidt, Global Director of Store Operations at Deckers Outdoor, known for its Ugg shoe brands. “We’ve created a president of omnichannel responsible for all our e-commerce, stores and wholesale operations internationally, which helps us all work closely together here, operating off of a single project list,” said Heidt. “In addition, our company president does a quarterly ‘town hall’ meeting to identify our key initiatives and how we’re tracking to them. This helps create business owners in the stores, so even down to the level of the store associate, they understand what we’re doing in omnichannel. We’re putting technology behind our efforts, but also empowering our stores to do the things that need to be done for good customer service.”

Technology is critical to many store-based initiatives, from mobile point-of-sale that opens up valuable real estate to analytics capable of passively tracking shoppers’ cell phones to help retailers understand actual traffic and shopping patterns. Panelist Jeff Grossman, Director of Retail Solution Consulting for Oracle, noted that “there’s a lot of technology out there to help retailers revolutionize their business and get closer to customers.” He discussed BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) technology that emits a Bluetooth signal that’s readable by customers’ cell phones equipped with a specific mobile app. This technology can be used to send marketing content to a device when the shopper gets near a specific aisle or product.

Moderator Reda questioned how much consumers will be willing to accept in terms of in-store communications to their own devices. Grossman noted that any application’s benefits need to be relevant to each customer. “With any marketing campaign, there’s the context for it, the content that’s delivered and the conduit to deliver it,” he said. “If a shopper downloads the Walgreens app to help handle their prescriptions or the Kohl’s app to take advantage of coupons, that provides a real benefit to them.”

To make the store experience even more relevant, retailers should be looking for technology that gives them a common view of the customer across channels, providing store associates with information about, for example, a shopper’s past purchases and recent online searches. Such technology needs to be accompanied by ongoing and upgraded training of associates. “They should know why customers are getting specific messages, and also be aware that not all customers will be getting the same message while they are in the store,” said Deckers’ Heidt.

Wednesday Feb 19, 2014

Marketing Automation for Retail

Marketing automation is exactly what it says.  Its software that helps marketers automate the programs used to move leads from the top of the marketing funnel to a ready-to-buy state.  Rather than blast a message out to everyone, this approach fosters personalization at scale.  A simple marketing program might be something like this:

  1. Select all females 15-25 that have visited our web site but have purchased less than $100 in the last 6 months.
  2. Send them an email offering them free shipping.
  3. If they don't accept the offer, follow-up with an 10% off in-store coupon.
  4. If they don't accept the second offer, try posting a friends-and-family coupon to their Facebook newsfeed.
  5. etc.

The idea is to target small segments of customers, and automate the escalating steps necessary to entice them into buying.  But Oracle is taking the concept much further.  Following the acquisitions of Eloqua, Conpendium, and Responsys (which in turn recently acquired Push IO), Oracle is assembling a Marketing Cloud that serves the needs of many industries, retail included.  In addition to the obvious defining and executing marketing processes, there are several things that make Oracle's marketing automation even more effective.

DBL

First, we take into account the customer's digital body language.  Those are the relevant actions and reactions of customers that yield insight.  Maybe the customer didn't use the offer to buy a item, but they did open the email, visit the website, and browsed several products.  Those "tells" are helpful in determining next steps in the marketing process.

Personalization

In this case, the next interaction might be an email containing recommended products based on those recently browsed.  Messages are personalized based on the digital body language and whatever other customer demographics and psychographics that are available.  Another example of this is sending an email to customers reminding them they left something in their online cart.

Multiple Data Sources

There are many ways in which to communicate with customers including email, snail mail, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.  Marketing uses these channels to reach customers in the ways they want to be contacted.  And these channels also provide rich sources of data useful in personalization.  For example, the lastest release of Eloqua includes integrations to the Oracle Sales Cloud and Oracle Social Cloud.  If a customer is very active on Twitter, then perhaps that's the best way to reach her.


What really excites me about marketing automation is the potential to extend the digital body language concept into physical stores.  As mentioned previously, sensors inside stores can track customers, recording their visits in much the same way as is done on the Web.  This could allow us to form a more complete profile of the customer and better understand the cross-channel impacts of marketing.

Thursday Oct 17, 2013

Crosstalk Retail Panel

Susan Reda from Stores magazine hosted a panel at Crosstalk earlier this year.  I found the discussions on mobile and Commerce Anywhere very interesting, especially from the perspective of retailers not based in the US.  On the panel were:

  • Michel Joncas, CIO at Groupe Dynamite (Canada)
  • David Hunn, Head of IT Delivery at John Lewis (UK)
  • Dan West, CIO at New Look (UK)
  • Tom Madigan, VP at Oracle Retail

Take a look:

Tuesday Mar 26, 2013

SRM Demo

You may have noticed Oracle has acquired several social media software companies.  The video below demonstrates the integration of those assets into a complete Social Relationship Management suite.  This 7 minute video shows how a grocer uses social media to support the opening of a new store in the UK.

Tuesday Dec 11, 2012

From Transactions To Engagement

I've mentioned in the past that Oracle has invested quite a bit in acquiring social companies to build out its Social Relationship Management suite.  The concept is to shift away from transactions and towards engagement.  Social media represents a great opportunity to engage with customers, learn what they want, and personalize the shopping experience for them.

I look at SRM as the bridge between traditional CRM and CX.  If you're looking for ideas, check out Five Social Retailing Suggestions and Social Analytics and the Customer.  There are lots of ways to leverage social media to enhance the customer experience and thus drive more sales.

My friends over at 8th Bridge have just released their Social IQ report in which they rate retailers on their social capabilities.  They also produced a nice infographic so you can consume the data quickly, but I'd still encourage you to download the full report.

Retailers interested in upping their SRM abilities should definitely stop by the Oracle booth at NRF in January.

Wednesday May 25, 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

About


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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