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”

Friday Oct 23, 2015

The Magic of a Vibrant Customer Community

We are in the final days of the preparation for Oracle OpenWorld. The conference continues to grow year over year drawing about 60,000 people to the SF area to share experience across applications, technology, database and industries. The Oracle brand is impressive at #16 on the Interbrand ranking this year and we shine brightest next week.

The community is even more impressive. Oracle employs some of the brightest minds in technology to deliver innovation to the market at scale. Our ecosystem is vibrant and motivated to deliver customer results. The Oracle Retail community is comprised of 12,500 business partners. We have spent over 3,100 days in the last 12 months enabling our ecosystem on our latest releases.

On Sunday October 25th will welcome nearly 900 retailers to San Francisco for three consecutive days of insightful conversations, best practice sharing and presentations from our customers. For our retail community, it’s always about creating an experience. My job is to create the forum to foster these relationships and sharing. My proudest moments are seeing brands working together to figure out solutions to the latest challenges in the retail industry. We have a vibrant community of customers and partners that I am privileged to participate in. When you do the right thing for your customer community, magic can happen. At the Oracle OpenWorld 2008, my late friend and former CIO of SUPERVALU Paul Singer gave an inspiring keynote that led to the creation of the RetailROI community.

This year Oracle will be featuring stories from Nordstrom, Guitar Center, Gap Inc, TOMS shoes, Vitamix, Vodafone, Verizon, Furniture Row, and Ascena in the retail track at the Marriott Marquis. Click on the Focus on Retail document to see the details. We will have @OracleCommerce customers like Elaine Turner, Hollander, Rock Creek and Vitamix offering demonstrations in the Exposition Hall.

We will compliment the customer stories with a great line up of solution experts to talk about the latest developments in our footprint as we move toward the unveiling of Oracle Retail Version 15.

We have multiple partners who have contributed to the OpenWorld 2015 program with customer stories including Sparkred, Cirrus10, SapientNitro, Infosys, and Deloitte. Infosys is the retail track sponsor. Deloitte is sponsoring our Retail Executive Summit. IBM, Logic, Rackspace and OLR are sponsoring the networking activities. 

If you will be in San Francisco connect with us on Twitter for live updates on sessions, available demonstrations or if you just have a question and we will make sure your experience is outstanding. As a sign of appreciation, Oracle is throwing a concert on Wednesday night for the community at Treasure Island featuring Elton John and Beck. 

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

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 

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.


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.


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


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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