Thursday Mar 27, 2014

ULTA Beauty’s Digital Makeover

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

ULTA Beauty’s revamp of its digital sites last year went much more than skin deep. The 675-store beauty products retailer achieved its goal of a comprehensive site redesign that provides a consistent guest experience across desktop, tablet and phone devices, and it also brought its search and navigation functions together under in-house control with the help of Oracle Commerce including Oracle Endeca and Oracle ATG 10.2.

The site’s home page, category and product pages now boast new features including product metadata and easier access to user reviews. In addition, ULTA guests can now check available inventory of specific products at the store/salon they’re planning to visit.

The redesign, designed to emphasize the breadth of product offerings available from ULTA, also gave the retailer’s business side far greater control over key e-commerce elements, including pricing, promotions and site design changes. With fast-moving beauty and cosmetics trends, “there was no way we could stay current if we had to keep going to IT for changes we wanted to make,” said Jeff Hamm, Director of Ecommerce at ULTA. Hamm and Director of IT E-Commerce Michelle Pacynski discussed the process and the results at Oracle Industry Connect for Retail here.

“Every aspect of the home page is now configurable by the business teams,” said Pacynski.

The redesign process, which took approximately six months and was completed in time for the 2013 holiday season, eventually involved running both the “traditional” site and the redesigned site simultaneously. This large-scale A/B testing allowed ULTA to continue refining the new site’s design with actual guest feedback, ensuring performance and the user experience would be positive. “What had looked good ‘on paper’ or to us internally might not look good to a user,” Hamm admitted. The testing process was supplemented by focus groups, online surveys and store intercepts.

The site redesign has received a positive guest response as well as increased consistency between its navigation and search functions. The retailer’s overall results have been strong, with an 82.5% comp store sales increase for Q4 of 2013. ULTA Beauty opened 125 stores last year and is on track to open an additional 100 locations in 2014.

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.

Neiman Marcus CEO Calls Merchandising System Revamp Transformative

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

Calling the implementation of a revamped common merchandising system “the single biggest capital project we’ve ever done at Neiman Marcus,” President and CEO Karen Katz discussed the luxury retailer’s need to keep this major technology transformation on track with Oracle President Mark Hurd at Oracle Industry Connect for Retail here.

Katz admitted that the 41-store retailer, known for its personalized customer service and carefully curated product assortments, faces some singular challenges – in part because it has been so successful. “Our merchants believe that the way we run our business is so unique that we need highly customized systems,” Katz told Hurd. “We want [Oracle’s] help in making sure we don’t do that. You’ve worked with hundreds of retailers on these types of transformations. We know we’ll make some mistakes but we don’t want to make the same ones as others have, so staying on a clear path and keeping us focused will be very important.”

Neiman Marcus is hardly technophobic; its $1 billion-plus in digital sales makes it the largest luxury e-commerce business in the world. Three years ago, the retailer equipped all 5,000 of its store associates with iPhones, with the mobile devices replacing the ubiquitous “black books” that contained detailed information on the retailer’s highly demanding customers and their shopping preferences. “We wanted our associates to keep their client books in the app, but we also wanted them to communicate with customers as they wanted, via text, e-mails or phone calls. Now they can send photos, collages or ideas about wardrobe items that the customers might need,” noted Katz.

In its quest to create “the same kind of memorable customer experience online as in our stores,” Katz noted that Neiman Marcus has created the position of senior vice president of omni-channel and also has relaunched its consumer mobile app, which connects shoppers with their preferred sales associates. In turn, the retailer’s commission-based associates have been incentivized to create more omni-channel customers. “There are entire categories of product that we’re never going to sell within our stores, such as home furnishings, sheets and towels,” said Katz. “Our associates can sell these through the website and get commissions on those sales.”

Katz noted that while she honors the brand’s storied history, technology is critical to staying relevant, especially given the power of today’s consumer: “Retailers need to accept that the customer is in the driver’s seat, and not just follow her but get out in front of her. That will be the future.”

Oracle today released more information about the initiative with Neiman Marcus

Tuesday Mar 25, 2014

Reporting from Oracle Industry Connect

A message from Rose Spicer of Oracle Retail:

We will be reporting all this week from the first Oracle Industry Connect, taking place in Boston.  This event, more than any other, demonstrates why, as the senior director of retail marketing for Oracle, I love my job.  Thanks to David for inviting us to share highlights here.

Over the years we have cultivated what was Oracle Retail CrossTalk, a retail industry conference that started in 2006 with only 2 retail speakers. By 2013, we proudly hosted a forum with 90% of the content delivered by retailers for retailers, and it became an annual “must-attend” for the growing community of great retailers who use Oracle solutions. Retailers learned from one another and built valuable exchanges beyond the days of the conference.

This year we are pleased to host a new iteration of this customer gathering by introducing the inaugural Oracle Industry Connect, a conference modeled after CrossTalk and extended to offer separate “conferences within a conference” for five more industries.  Within this new model, we look forward to welcoming 225 retailers executives from over 102 brands from 18 different countries.

More than 30 retailers and industry influencers tell their stories and weigh in on industry trends. Among them, Neiman Marcus, Kohl’s, Groupe Dynamite, TJX, Deckers Outdoor, Scheels, Stage Stores, ULTA Beauty, C. Wonder, Luxottica, Zenni Optical, Academy Sports, charming charlie, Hot Topic, Konzum, and Country Road.

We have the best community of customers. I look forward to seeing many of our friends in Boston this week. If you are unable to join us, be sure to watch here for updates as guest blogger and retail industry writer Adam Blair reports from Boston.

Friday Feb 28, 2014

Retail Service Backbone and Integration Console

A key ingredient to Commerce Anywhere is the integration of systems.  If you're going to provide customers abilities like "buy online, pick-up in the store" then you're going to have to connect several systems.  For those that choose all Oracle Retail applications, most of those integrations are already available, but the majority of retailers have heterogeneous environments that require many integrations. Those integrations can be categorized as bulk data, fire-and-forget (message-based), and request-response services.  Its last one I'd like to discuss a bit.

As part of the v14 release, Oracle Retail provides the Retail Service Backbone (RSB) to assist with the lifecycle of Web services.  The RSB is included with the RIB license and its use is optional.  The libraries and tools are built on top of the Oracle Service Bus, but using a different ESB isn't out of the question.  The RIB and RSB work together and share the use of consistent Retail Business Objects.

From the release notes, we see that the RSB contains the following components:

  • Tools for generation of OSB projects with pre-built instrumentation
  • Tools for automating full services lifecycle management
  • Tools to manage service lifecycle phases (preparation, assembly, and deployment)
  • Tools for generation and automation of web service security policies
  • Centralized configuration management of all Oracle Retail services
  • Enforcement of standardization and verification of Retail Enterprise services
  • Configuration based extensible framework to enable customization
  • Pre-configured instrumentation for alerts, SLA, logging, audit, and trace automatically built in to each integration flow
  • Retail Integration Console (RIC) is a monitoring, diagnosis, and analysis tool

That last one, the RIC, is a very cool Web application used for monitoring the Web service integrations at the application level.  From the console, its easy to see how integrations are performing, detect exceptions, and drive into details for analysis and eventual diagnosis.  Here's a screenshot of the summary page:

The tabs across the top are Integration Summary, Integration Flows, Deployment Topology, Performance & Diagnostics, Historical Trends, and Integration Guide.  These tabs provide a comprehensive view of the integrations thus allowing administrators to be more proactive in avoiding issues and quicker to diagnose those that can't be avoided.

Delivering on the Commerce Anywhere promise starts with systems that are effectively exchanging data.

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.

Wednesday Feb 12, 2014

Push Payments for MCX

Today MCX announced its adding Paydiant's cloud-based payment technology to its platform.  Recall that MCX was formed by several leading retailers to build new payment technologies.  Although not overtly stated, they are clearly trying to bypass the fees charged by the credit and debit networks for processing payments.  These fees are quite significant.  For example, the NACS estimates that in 2007 the 146,000 convenience stores in the US paid $7.6B in credit card fees while generating $3.4B in profits.  Granted, credit cards have several benefits for merchants such as speedier checkout and elimination of cash handling, but those fees seem very out-of-line.

So how does Paydiant help retailers avoid fees?  They are taking a "push payment" approach that turns payments upside-down.  Typically the consumer hands over their account number to the merchant so that the merchant can extract the appropriate funds for the purchase.  That account number can be a checking account, debit card, credit card, etc.  The merchant hands off to the acquirer (the merchant's bank) which sends the data through one of several payment networks (like VisaNet) to reach the issuing bank (banks that issued the account) where the transaction is approved or denied.  And of course everybody gets a cut along the way.

The push model instead has the merchant give the consumer their account number so the consumer can "push" their money into the merchant's account.  When the merchant sees the money in their account, they release the product.  By skipping the acquirer and network and going directly to the issuer, most of the fees are avoided.  This method has the added advantage of better security because the consumer never exposes their account information.  Think about that.  Plus, this approach works fine with the existing POS.

The trick here is getting the merchant's account number to the consumer.  Paydiant does that by displaying a QR code at the POS that represents both the merchant's account and the transaction amount.  The consumer must use their mobile phone running the white-label Paydiant application to capture that data and process the transaction.  The request goes into the cloud, and the authorization is sent to the POS where the merchant is informed of successful payment.

Snapping a picture of a QR code at the checkout isn't exactly the most natural thing.  Using NFC or Bluetooth would certainly be preferable, but I assume that's a follow-up innovation.  Now that brings the customer experience into focus.  Thus far we've seen the huge benefits to the retailer, but what does the consumer get out of this?  Well, nothing.  In fact, this payment process seems more complex than swipe-and-sign.  Perhaps those consumers worried about privacy will love this approach, but most people appreciate the simplicity of a swipe.  (I still use a paper boarding pass at the airport even though I can get my boarding pass on my phone.  Less can go wrong with paper.)

Payment is a really tough area to win because all the different constituents have to buy-in.  Merchants wants low fees; Banks want low fraud; Consumers want convenience.  It sounds easy, but its far from it.

Monday Feb 10, 2014

E-commerce Passwords

If you're like me, you've likely established many accounts with online retailers, many of which also store your payment information.  How easily can hackers guess your password and control your account?  To avoid storing passwords, websites typically store a hashed version in their database.  A secure hash algorithm creates a unique representation of your password that cannot be reversed.  So when you enter your password, its hashed and compared to the stored hash.  If they are the same, then you've entered the correct password.  If the stored hash is stolen, the hacker can't reverse it back to a password, but they can try to guess your password.  That's why its crucial that online retailers enforce good password creation when accounts are created.  That means they should these best practices:

  • Require a minimize length
  • Mix alphas, digits, and upper/lower case
  • Disallow commonly used passwords like '123456'
  • Use email to verify accounts
  • Limit the number of invalid attempts

Of course enforcement is all over the board.  Dashlane, the provider of secure password management software, recently graded the top 100 e-commerce sites on their password management policies.  You can see the results in the infographic below:

The details of the study are available here. According to the study, Northern Tool and 1-800-Flowers allow one character passwords.  Thankfully, most of the retailers send an account confirmation email, and none of those send the password in cleartext.  Want to use 'password' as your password?  No problem at LL Bean, Gap, and Costco.  When you change your password, Blue Nile, Karmaloop, and MLB will email your password in cleartext.  And and Amazon, Aeropostale, and Shoebuy don't limit your password guesses.

As an industry, we can do better than this.

Thursday Jan 30, 2014

Cookies in the Store

Online retailing has many advantages, which companies like Amazon have magnified with great success.  Since the early 1990s, technology has enabled great leaps forward for e-commerce sites while the brick-and-mortar world has remained relatively stagnant.  Yes, there are pockets of in-store innovation that have certainly  improved the customer experience inside stores, but by-and-large the Web world retains a big advantage. 

Tax legislation is finally being passed (on a state-by-state basis for now), which helps level the playing field a bit.  And by the same token, next-day delivery detracts from offline's allure of instant gratification.  Both physical and digital stores continue to up the ante, and consumers are the big beneficiaries.

One huge advantage of e-commerce sites is context awareness -- knowing who's browsing products, along what path, for how long, from what geography, etc.  The nature of the Web allows online retailers to "watch and learn" how customers shop and even to influence their behaviors along the way.  But this notion of context isn't strictly limited to the Web, at least not anymore.  Mobile phones are acting like Web cookies in the physical world, opening up possibilities that retailers only imagined were possible online.

The table below shows some online capabilities alongside some similar offline capabilities.

 Online  Offline
 Cookies  Mobile Phones
 Login  Geo-fence / Check-in
 Visitors Metric
 People counters
 Pageviews Metric
 Product info
 QR Codes
 Recommendations  Assisted Selling
 Opt-in + Beacons
 Promo Codes
 Digital Coupons

Assuming the right hardware is installed in the store and the customer has opted-into being tracked via the retailer's mobile app, a world of opportunities are suddenly accessible. We can follow customers on their journey through the store, noting where they dwell and which items they touch.  These data points yield improved store layouts, better assortments, and more localization.  Furthermore, we can make intelligent recommendations, offer personalized offers, and award/redeem digital coupons as they shop, enhancing the overall customer experience.

So much of the same context the online retailers take for granted is now available to brick-and-mortar stores for both analytics as well as real-time engagement.  None of these in-store capabilities are really that new, but the idea of combining them to provide a holistic view is where we're going.  And when you track events across both stores and e-commerce, you have contextual shopping at its best.

Wednesday Jan 22, 2014

Will EMV Protect Retailers?

Will EMV protect retailers?  About as well as PCI certification does today.  I used to work with the Europay/Mastercard/Visa standard when I developed software for smartcards, and the technology is certainly better than the ancient magstripe cards we use today.  But it was created before e-commerce really took off, and the US implementation of EMV isn't very secure.  Let's imagine for a moment that Target was ahead of the 2015 deadline and already had smartcard readers in its stores (like they did back in 2001).  Would they have been protected?

Since the smartcard has a tiny microprocessor embedded, it can do calculations like encryption.  When the card is inserted, it authenticates the POS, and the POS authenticates the card using a shared secret (typically an encryption key).  But in the case of Target, the POS was legit so they would have trusted each other anyway.

The typical Chip & PIN implementation in Europe requires the cardholder to enter a PIN to unlock the card, but in the US the PIN is optional and usually not required.  Do you know the PIN number for your credit card?  No one does because the banks think it would be inconvenient.

Since trust has been established, the smartcard sends over the account number and other associated data.  Its in the clear for a brief moment before its encrypted and sent to the bank.  This is the same situation as with the magstripe.  Until the banks establish the ability to support end-to-end encryption and/or tokenization, we've still got the same issue.

There is one area where EMV helps a little.  The thieves still get the creditcard data but they won't be able to create fake smartcards.  Those chips need to be programmed with the right data and keys, which are only available at the issuing bank.  So even though they managed to get the data, they can't create forged cards. Except for one little issue -- they can just use the card data online.  No need to create cards at all.

Just as PCI didn't really make retailers safe from fraud, neither will EMV.  Its a step in the right direction, but far from perfect.

Thursday Jan 09, 2014

NRF 2014

This year we're kicking off NRF with our new Release 14 which you can hear more about in the Oracle Retail booth.  I'll be spending my time there as well as walking the floor looking for trends and saying "hi" to friends.  Although I've always been a big supporter of RetailROI, this is my first year attending SuperSaturday and I'm really looking forward to it.  In additional to consuming all the great content, I'll also be leading a lunchtime discussion on innovation processes.

Here's a photo from last year's RIS/IHL/ARTS panel (courtesy of my buddy Darrell Sandefur):

On Sunday, I'll be delivering a part of the "ARTS and the Seamless Data Experience" presentation in which I'll focus on the value of standards for innovating.  I'd encourage NRF attendees to stop by and learn what ARTS has been doing this past year and what we're planing for 2014.  You can also stop by the ARTS booth and hear about our latest standard called Change4Charity.  Its an XML integration standard that simplifies taking charitable donations at the point-of-sale (which also includes Web stores).  Digital Donations, Donate Wise Now, and MiniDonations were all key contributors to this effort.

See you there!

Wednesday Jan 08, 2014

Release 14

On January 6th, Oracle Retail announced Release 14 of its enterprise suite of software.  This release represents our largest R&D investment to date, and it addresses the major goal of most retailers: Commerce Anywhere.  While there has been much said about the front-end experience for customers, that's just the tip of the iceberg.  As all retailers know, there are many systems behind the scenes that make delivering the Commerce Anywhere experience possible.  It might be really valuable to deploy iPads for store employees, and provide cool consumer-facing mobile apps, but none of that flash works without the back-office systems that gauge demand, plan the buys, source the products, distribute the inventory, and record the sales.

The market long ago identified the need for cross-channel, omni-channel, or whatever you want to call it.  But its such a difficult problem that many retailers have struggled to provide the supporting systems.  I don't think there's another vendor that offers the breadth of retail products that Oracle Retail owns, so the spotlight has really been on us to deliver.  This release provides the opportunity to transform a retailer's business to truly deliver Commerce Anywhere.

In a recent article, Mike Webster describes the release in terms of providing consumer journeys, targeted assortment offerings, inventory alignment & transparency, and integrations.  These are the principle components of the Commerce Anywhere recipe for retailers.  Additionally, we provide detailed business process flows and architecture diagrams that prescribe a Commerce Anywhere implementation.  Retailers can pick and chose the processes they need for their business and can mix the Oracle assets with existing ones as necessary because the answer can't be "replace everything and start over."

Additionally, there's new science, revamped user interfaces, deeper analytics, performance improvements, and lots of new features that help retailers plan and execute better.  One of my favorite things is our new Retail Integration Console -- a dashboard that not only monitors the performance of integrations, but allows drill-down for research and immediate corrections.  This supports both proactive and reactive troubleshooting that should help IT perform better.

So don't let the Amazon Octocopter distract you.  The retailers that execute on Commerce Anywhere will grow their business, regardless of what's happening in Seattle.

Thursday Jan 02, 2014

Commerce Anywhere

As we welcome the new year, I usually post my predictions for the future of the retail industry.  But given my dismal track record, I thought it might be better to look back at all the things that have shaped retail since this blog began in 2008.  Technology has become a huge driver in defining the new customer experience, so its more important than ever to monitor the landscape.  Below are a sampling of postings that introduced new concepts or trends.  Pick a few and think about how far we've come in this short time.

Retail Feels the Pain (2008)

Does Mobile Commerce Really Work (2008)

Social Side of Retail (2008)

Amazon's Competitive Edge (2009)

Speedy and Scalable Analytics (2009)

Retail in the Clouds (2009)

Shopping on my Phone? (2009)

Mobile Coupons (2009)

Augmented Reality (2009)

Crowdsourcing in Fashion (2009)

Get Your Group On (2009)

iPhone Redlaser (2009)

Apple Stores, Touch2Systems, and the iPad (2010)

The North Face Erects Geo-Fences (2010)

Google Rules for Retail (2010)

The Semantic Web and Retail (2010)

Bridging the Physical and Digital Worlds (2010)

Counting Eye-Clicks in the Store (2010)

Stop Saying "Multi-channel!" (2011)

Can You Trust Search? (2011)

Moneyball for Retail (2011)

Four Emerging Payment Stories (2011)

F-Commerce Gets an 'F' (2012)

Comparing ISIS, Google, and Paypal (2012)

EMV on its way to the US (2012)

Facial Recognition for Retail (2012)

Shipping Wars (2013)

3D Printing (2013)

The Cookie in my Mobile Phone (2013)

Crowdsourced Grocery Shopping (2013)

Apple iBeacons in the Store (2013)

The thread that ties all these themes together is Commerce Anywhere.  Whereas retailers often controlled the agenda in the past, consumers are now firmly in control, defining the ways in which they wish to shop.  And of course they want it all: anytime, anywhere, anyplace.  So its only fitting that I rename this blog the Commerce Anywhere Blog.  The focus remains on stories about delivering the best customer experience with special focus on applying emerging technologies.

Commerce Anywhere isn't just about bring the physical and digital stores together.  Its impacts are wide and deep, affecting every business process in the enterprise.  At Oracle Retail, we continue to provide solutions that enable Commerce Anywhere for the world's best retailers.

Welcome to 2014.

Thursday Nov 07, 2013

Blockbuster Time Machine

In another example of clinging to the core business much too long, DISH announced its closing the remaining 300 Blockbuster stores.  This reminds us that we must always be looking over our shoulders for the next big thing.  Blockbuster had the opportunity to buy Netflix, but it passed just as Barnes & Noble decided it didn't need to partner with Amazon.  Its so tempting to stick with a profitable business instead of taking a risk on a new idea.  Nevertheless, Blockbuster is history -- and this video from The Onion seals it.

Historic ‘Blockbuster’ Store Offers Glimpse Of How Movies Were Rented In The Past

Monday Oct 21, 2013

A Comparison of Store Layouts

Belus Capital Advisors is an independent stock market research firm that sometimes rolls up its sleeves and walks retail stores.  This month Brian Sozzi walked both Macy's and Sears and snapped pictures along the way.  The results are a good lesson in what to do and what not to do in retail.  The dichotomy between the two brands is stark, and Brian's pictures tell the stories of artistry and neglect.  For example, look at these two pictures:

Where do you want to shop for sneakers?  The left picture shows the Finish Line store within Macy's and the right shows empty shelves at Sears.  The pictures really show the importance of assortments, in-stock inventory, and presentation.  Take a look at the two stories, and pay particular attention to the pictures of Sears.

19 Photos that Show the New Magic of Macy’s

Sears is Vanishing from our Minds, the Shocking 18 Photos That Show Why


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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