Friday Jan 15, 2016

Retailers Expand Commerce Faster with Oracle Cloud

Oracle Cloud serves every aspect of retailers’ business needs, from enterprise financials to customer marketing to e-commerce. The cloud is the most effective way for any retailer, big or small, to expand and update its retail operations to roll out new business models, expand merchandise offerings, open in new markets and drill down into customer preferences using best-in-class Oracle business intelligence and analytics.

Responding to the industry’s best growth opportunity in 2015, many retailers launched all-new shopping experiences with Oracle Commerce Cloud. Replacing platforms that were traditionally hosted and managed by IT teams within the walls of the retailer, today’s cloud services offer a simpler solution to maintaining feature-rich online storefronts, engaging customers, viewing inventory and fulfilling orders across channels. And unlike old systems, these modern solutions offer retailers immediate access to new technology and upgrades as they become available.

Nowhere is this truer than in e-commerce, and Oracle saw retailers take full advantage of new solutions well before the holiday shopping season began.  

Elaine Turner Director of e-CommerceWomen’s luxury brand Elaine Turner updated its e-commerce site to run on the Oracle Commerce Cloud so that it could expand beyond its 10 brick-and-mortar stores to engage its customers nationwide.  The move to the Oracle platform provided the retailer with a scalable, user-friendly and customer-centric system that quickly won favor.

“With Oracle Commerce Cloud, we expect to increase conversion rates by two times,” Carrie Leader, director of e-commerce, Elaine Turner, said during a recent webinar -, “and traffic between 20 and 30%.” Looking to the future, Elaine Turner predicts a sales increase between 50 and 100%with the help of the solution. Ms. Leader also shared the company's motivation for moving to Oracle Commerce Cloud at Open World this fall in a live interview

Similarly, at the end of 2015, independent retailer Rock/Creek was looking to expand its online presence and teamed up with Oracle Commerce Cloud. The outdoor specialist wanted to allow customers to generate more of their own content on the site, but needed help maintaining and upgrading the website to meet customers’ evolving expectations. Moving to a SaaS system made more sense for the retailer than struggling to keep upgrading on premise software.

 “As a local Chattanooga-based outdoor gear retailer, e-commerce is a strategic way to extend the reach of the Rock/Creek business,” said Mark McKnight, head of e-commerce, Rock/Creek. “But we like to focus on bringing the best rock climbing, paddling, running and hiking gear to our customers—not managing a technology infrastructure. With a SaaS solution like Oracle Commerce Cloud, Rock/Creek can simultaneously keep our technology costs low and stay innovative with the latest commerce features for online shopping experiences. Both are important to our business as our customers demand more from their online shopping experiences and as we continue to grow and scale our business.”

The cloud is the most effective way for any retailer, big or small, to expand and update its retail operations to roll out new business models, expand merchandise offerings, open in new markets and drill down into customer preferences using best-in-class business intelligence and analytics.  

Visit Oracle Retail at booth 2521 during NRF's Big Show to demo Oracle Commerce Cloud.  

Single View of Inventory Means Growth for Retailers Nordstrom and Lids Sports Group

Inventory—or lack thereof—can make or break a sale, influencing the immediate purchase and making a lasting impression on the shopper. 

And although retail executives have long voiced the need for a single view of inventory, the demand is now deriving from the shoppers themselves. In Oracle’s 2015 “Retail Without Limits” survey, 70% of consumers said they wanted visibility into retailers’ inventory in order to make their purchases anytime, anywhere.

With stakes this high—and with a growing number of paths to purchase—it’s becoming increasingly necessary for brands in 2016 to offer consumers an accurate, right-now view of items in stock at any location or online.  

More retailers are achieving one fluid view of inventory that facilitates the services customers prefer – sometimes before they know it. Nordstrom long ago set the standard for excellence in service by making customers’ convenience its top priority. The retailer, which uses Oracle solutions as the foundation for its world-renowned inventory and merchandising operations, was among the first to allow customers to return items purchased at any of its brands to any convenient store, including at a sister brand location: Nordstrom Rack and Haute Look. 

Bringing One Nordsrtom to Life

“Our strategy is straightforward: to realize the strengths and advantages of One Nordstrom,” David Boeschenstein, VP of merchandise and supply chain technology for Nordstrom, said in a presentation at Oracle OpenWorld in October. “As we entered the Canadian market, we wanted to fuel growth. We wanted to avoid customizations and maintain the upgrade path, so we didn’t face the same situation going forward.”

Nordstrom launched a new, upgraded version of Oracle solutions to form the foundation for its retail operations in Canada. The features and functionality provided within the latest Oracle applications mean the retailer can avoid customization, a change that paid off quickly when Nordstrom rolled out upgrades to its Canadian store systems just nine months after the first location opened in 2014. 

Another retailer using a single view of inventory to further its success is specialty brand Lids Sports Group, which operates 1,300 stores in North America and an online business. What makes the retailer unique is that its brick-and-mortar assortments are hyper-localized and feature products from regional favorites, as well as national teams. The brand recently needed to upgrade its inventory systems so that all of the regionally available sports memorabilia could be seen by a consumer shopping in any store nationwide or online.  

In April 2015, Lids rolled out Oracle Retail Order Broker, enabling the retailer to nearly double the number of product SKUs available for sale online by exposing inventory in all Lids stores as well as throughout its supply chain.

The new system gives associates and customers real-time, chain-wide inventory information whether products are sitting in a warehouse, an e-commerce distribution center, or on a store shelf hundreds of miles away. Employees can easily find available items and then ship them to customers’ homes or businesses, or to any store in the chain. The deployment also replaced end of the day inventory tracking with real-time views. 

Lids Sports Group Webcast Archive Link

“Oracle Retail solutions have made a dramatic difference in how we do business, both with regard to our internal systems and in relating to customers,” said Larry Havlik, VP , IT and systems, Lids Sports Group. “This is a significant step toward driving growth, by expanding the items we offer and giving customers the full benefit of our locations, in-store service, and e-commerce site.”

Previously this year Kevin Thompson, Director of Applications Development at Lids Sports Group shared the company's experience working with Oracle Retail Xstore Point-of-Service and Order Broker Cloud Service in a webcast. View the archive to hear their story

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

Monday Jan 04, 2016

4 Essential Considerations for Hassle-free, Low-risk Returns

According to NRF, retailers estimate holiday return fraud will cost $2.2 billion in 2015. Combine this number with the rise in online shopping this holiday season, of which 80% includes free return shipping, and you’ve got some significant revenue loss potential.

About $62 billion in goods bought between November and December 2015 will be returned, up 8% from the same period last year, with about a third of those items (more than $20 billion worth) purchased online, according to Customer Growth Partners.

A pain-free returns process is a vital part of the customer service experience and denying legitimate returns presents significant risk to customer loyalty. A well defined and managed returns process will enhance the customer experience while protecting the business from theft.

We asked Michael Colpitts, Solution Market Director, Stores & Commerce, Oracle Retail, to share his tips on how to achieve the right balance between fraud prevention and excellent customer service.

4 Essential Considerations for Hassle-free, Low-risk Returns

1. Plan for Unreceipted Returns

It is estimated that more than 13.4 percent of nonreceipted returns are fraudulent; unfortunately, you can't just deny all nonreceipted returns. Studies show that a customer's experience of returning merchandise is a key decision point in building loyalty and many of them expect to be able to return when and where they wish. So on one hand, you have to factor fraud cutting into the bottom line, and on the other hand you have to consider how a poor customer experience diminishes loyalty. Managing exceptions from your POS data allows loss prevention professionals to quickly flag recurring issues like unreceipted returns so that field investigators can prioritize investigations.

2. Leverage Automation to Ensure Compliance

It’s fine to write a policy statement and distribute it throughout your stores, but actually achieving compliance is another matter. That’s where automation becomes really important. You want a system in place that offers associates the right guidance during the execution of returns so that policy is adhered to, customer experience is consistent at every location, every time and employee knowledge of policies becomes widespread.

3. A Single View of the Customer is Critical

If your in-store POS and online sales data is siloed you are inevitably going to miss patterns. This is key because a customer’s return history is invaluable in determining the likelihood of fraud. Just as important, leveraging a central repository for all customer transactions enables you to convert a nonreceipted return into a receipted return by looking up the original transaction at the POS.

4. Look for Flexibility, Scale and Seamless Integrations

When selecting a technology solution always consider what the business will look like in 5, 10, 15 years and consider integration requirements with other solutions (both cloud and on-premises). The Oracle Retail Returns Management solution gives retailers the ability to create flexible returns policies that are fully integrated with the broader Oracle Retail Stores and Commerce solutions ensuring a consistent data set. Even the most complex policies are easy to create and manage with 40 built-in rules that evaluate the return. These rules incorporate all available criteria to determine how the return should be handled including presence of a receipt, customer return history, store location, item or brand being returned, condition of the item—and much more.

The Risk of Doing Nothing

As loss prevention technology adoption accelerates criminals strategically look for retailers that have manual processes and loop holes. For those who do not act, losses will inevitably accelerate. We’re helping retailers strike the right balance of risk mitigation and hassle free shopping experiences. Learn more at or drop us an email:

For more information on retail fraud statistics and trends read NRF’s 2015 Consumer Returns in the Retail Industry report.

Monday Dec 21, 2015

Analyst Reports: IHL Market Studies Name Oracle Retail a Leader in POS Software for Hardgoods and Softgoods

Leading global research and advisory firm IHL recently released two new market studies (one focused on hardgoods and one focused on softgoods) and named Oracle Retail—specifically its flagship Oracle Retail Xstore Point-of-Service offering—the #1 overall provider for both types of retailers.

The studies examined specific aspects of point-of-service (POS) software used by hardgoods and softgoods retailers, including common core functionality, key economic and technological trends impacting the retail landscape, and vendor market share. They also looked at unique segment conditions affecting each type of retailer. Then, for the top 200 retailers, IHL identified and ranked their POS vendors in terms of total accounts, licenses, and revenues. This evaluation revealed Oracle’s leadership as a POS vendor for both hardgoods and softgoods retailers.

Commerce Anywhere and Oracle Retail Xstore Point-of-Service
With its acquisition of MICROS, Oracle inherited a wide range of POS solutions tailored to individual sectors and geographies. While continuing to support all of our stores solutions, Oracle Retail is investing in Oracle Retail Xstore Point-of-Service to help global retailers build strong customer loyalty in a commerce anywhere world. 

"Thanks to the easily scalable, extensible architecture of Oracle Retail Xstore Point-of-Service around the globe, retailers can speed upgrades and leverage deep integration with Oracle Retail's customer engagement, commerce platform, order brokering, store inventory management, and order management solutions," says Oracle Retail Senior Director, Stores Erick Rowe. 

Rich features and functionalities empower retail staff to provide memorable service levels, from seamless inventory visibility to the kind of customer insight that supports clienteling, gift registry, and targeted in-store promotions. 

Special Offer: Migration to Oracle Retail Xstore Point-of-Service
To help retailers adopt the next-generation Oracle Retail Xstore Point-of-Service, Oracle Retail is extending a special offer, available via sales representatives, that protects customers' current license investments, while speeding and simplifying the migration process. The program includes:

  • Licensing credits. Many retailers will be eligible to apply credits from their current licensing agreements towards adoption of Oracle Retail Xstore Point-of-Service.
  • Streamlined migration. Oracle Retail has worked with partners and its own consulting organization to create scripts and process maps to speed migration from retailers' transitional solutions to the strategic platform that Oracle Retail Xstore Point-of-Service provides.
  • Modular adoption. Oracle Retail Xstore Point-of-Service has been engineered to integrate with the other key Oracle Retail solutions that support commerce anywhere operations. Oracle is helping retailers build a modular strategy, beginning with addressing key pain points, as they move toward a comprehensive commerce anywhere solution.

Global Omnichannel Commerce in Action
To understand how Oracle Retail Xstore Point-of-Service fits into Oracle's larger strategy for global, omnichannel commerce, retailers can contact Oracle Retail to schedule a viewing of the new Oracle Retail global omnichannel demo. The demo will also be showcased at the National Retail Federation Annual Convention & EXPO in Oracle’s booth, #2521. 

The demo reveals the unified, state-of-the-art architecture that synchronizes all of the following solutions to support commerce anywhere:

Read the IHL market studies for hardgoods and softgoods

Learn more about Oracle's special offer to migrate to Oracle Retail Xstore Point-of-Service via your Oracle Retail sales representative.

Schedule a viewing of the Oracle Retail global omnichannel demo

Friday Dec 04, 2015

Develop a Five Point Plan toward Retail Transparency

An excerpt from our new E-Book "Retail Transparency" by Michael Colpitts and Corey Gale

While retailers scramble to manage the impact of omnichannel on their operations, the way they communicate with customers, and the methods they use to promote their products and reward loyal shoppers, many have neglected to consider what will likely be the most profound change of all: the overall impact of omnichannel data transparency.

Omnichannel is destined to transform every aspect of the retail industry, including the store—its design and layout, the inclusion of mobile point- of-sale and clienteling systems, the impact of transparent inventory and what that means for fulfillment, a single view of the customer and its implications for loyalty programs, and even the physical location of stores. Retailers must stay ahead of the omnichannel curve if they expect to remain competitive in the race for customers in a commerce anywhere world, and that contest begins at the brick-and-mortar store. 

Considering the trends, technologies and desire to mitigate risk, how should retailers proceed with a commerce anywhere strategy that blends bricks with mobility? Retailers should focus on the five points below when developing plans:

  1. Retailers have spent decades trying to connect their brands with consumers, to bring them into the store. Now retailers must digitally connect and converge their physical stores with consumer devices to enable shoppers to find the brand, which requires intelligent investment in digital technology.

  2. Traditional point-of-sale is giving way to immersive engagement with shoppers from the time they are considering a purchase, through the in-store shopping and selection experience, payment and delivery. This commerce anywhere reality requires new systems and procedures inside the store.

  3. Associates must become tech-savvy consultants to consumers, elevating themselves beyond transactional interactions, which will ultimately pay dividends in the form of customer loyalty, same- store-sales and basket size.

  4. Increasingly, stores will become an intermediate stop for retail transactions. The experience will begin on the consumer’s mobile phone or tablet, continue through a mobile-device-driven consultation and selection phase in the store, and be completed on a mobile POS for the consumer to take with them or schedule for home delivery.

  5. Many retailers may be investing in technology hesitantly, while they wait to see what technology and trends will be the winners. But a smarter strategy for achieving omnichannel transparency and greater functionality is to incrementally employ cloud services to quickly and cost effectively achieve commerce anywhere goals.

Monday Nov 09, 2015

Shoe Carnival Selects Oracle Retail Customer Engagement Cloud Services

With growing sales across its more than 400 stores and e-commerce site, family footwear retailer Shoe Carnival is implementing Oracle Retail Customer Engagement Cloud Services to transform its “ShoePerks” loyalty program. The Oracle Retail solution is part of a larger strategic marketing push at Shoe Carnival, and will make it easier for the loyalty program managers to customize and enhance offers, roll out new promotions, and drive sales in stores and online.

Shoe Carnival will use the loyalty program to better understand its customers’ purchase behaviors and segment shoppers by VIP, first-time buyer, and other categories that will help to match the right promotion with the right shopper at the right time. Shoe Carnival will leverage Oracle Retail Customer Engagement Cloud Services to support key aspects of its customer marketing, segmentation and loyalty awards operations. More specifically, Shoe Carnival plans to implement Oracle Retail Customer Management and Segmentation Foundation and Oracle Retail Loyalty and Awards Cloud Services.

We look forward to Shoe Carnival’s success. Become part of the Shoe Carnival customer community, check out and take time to browse the new winter selections. 

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”

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

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. 

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 @ 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 to request a link to the archive.

Next up we will kick off the annual 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 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.

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

Thursday Sep 17, 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

Monday Jul 20, 2015

Unlocking the Secrets of Big Data with Science

Buzzwords abound in the tech world, and mobile, social, big data, and cloud are the four horsemen.  Of those I think big data is least understood, but possibly the most powerful as exemplified by my favorite quote:

“Data is the new oil; analytics the new refinery.” -- unknown

The retail industry has always been dealing with large volumes of data; it's just that now the velocity and variety have dramatically increased. So the problem for retailers is two fold: first, how do they convert all that data into meaningful information? And second, how do they make the information relevant and actionable to employees?

Oracle Retail's answer comes in two families of cloud services: Oracle Retail Advanced Science and Oracle Retail Insights.  Continuing our momentum in delivering cloud services, these products simplify implementations allowing retailers to realize value faster and with less IT effort.

Oracle Retail Advanced Science Engine

We have a long history of employing data scientists that cull through donated data to find useful insights that can be productized in algorithms.  Over the years we've led the industry in areas like demand forecasting, markdown optimization, and localized assortments.  To make it easier to bring new algorithms to market, we've built our Advanced Science Engine, a platform tuned for analyzing data at scale and exporting the results.  Over the past six months, we've adjusted the architecture to provide this in a cloud deployment.  The specific science being offered is packaged into three separate cloud services:

Advanced Clustering

This solution provides insight into how store clustering best benefits the business.  It helps to answer questions such as:

  • What categories or merchandise classifications benefit most from clustering?
  • At what level of product or location hierarchy should clusters be created?
  • What product/location attributes should be leveraged?

The solution automatically selects the best clustering method depending on the clustering approach selected, and allows for what-if scenarios that help explore the data.  Is scores clustering approaches for comparison, and recommend the optimal number of clusters.  This fosters consumer-centric assortments that ultimately increase sales.

Customer Decision Trees & Demand Transference

CDTs map the decision process made by shoppers to purchase items.  They help a retailer understand if they have the right variety of sizes, flavors, colors, etc. in their assortment.

Suppliers often provide consumer decision trees that help retailers understand the impact to assortment decisions based on "generic" consumers.  But when a consumer is identified, they become a customer.  Our solution focuses on customer decision trees, which reflect the actual customers in your stores.  The solution even allows a side-by-side comparison of imported consumer decision trees alongside the calculated customer decision trees.

Using this science helps to reduce duplication in assortments, and prevent dropping unique items to which customers are attached.  Demand transference helps forecast if customers will switch to alternatives so that the number of variety of items offered can be optimized.  This solution often works closely with Category Management.

Assortment & Space Optimization

This solution helps to identify the optimal targeted assortment withing the space constraints.  It understands shelves, pegboards, and freezers and incorporates various business rules and visual merchandising standards.  The what-if analysis is very helpful in exploring options while seeking to maximize profits for any given space within the store or store cluster.

Integrated Planning

These cloud services can be used with existing planning products, or with Oracle Retail planning solutions such as Category Management Planning & Optimization, Macro Space Optimization, Retail Demand Forecasting, and Advanced Inventory Planning.

Thursday Jun 04, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The bigger question is....

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

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

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

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


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

NRF 2016

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