Learn how companies are working to create new shopping experiences.
Building the "commerce anywhere" model shoppers demand
By Mike Webster, SVP and General Manager, Oracle Retail
The classic multi-channel retail business model has recently been eclipsed by a "commerce anywhere" approach. Many retailers have yet to adapt their operations to this new reality, and those that are on their way have taken vastly different paths.
In order to enable new customer journeys and reshape business processes, retailers are driving four common initiatives.
1. Enabling consumers to buy on their own terms. Consumers demand the freedom to purchase products how they want, when they want, and to do so in a connected, nearly seamless fashion. In this quest, consumers are well aware when they bridge gaps retailers have yet to close.
Ultimately, retail systems must accommodate consumer journeys that traverse the silos of traditional retail business processes. Online, store, and mobile systems must not only acknowledge each other but also share data and functionality. Whether customers buy in-store and have items shipped to their homes or browse online and pick up their purchase locally, their journey must be supported.
2. Delivering targeted assortments. How do retailers deliver more choice while also tailoring offers to the individual? Early on, this was much of the "art" of retailing. Today, targeting assortments is increasingly a data-driven endeavor, enabling more accurate forecasts, sales analysis and customer insights.
Integration between systems and the speed with which retailers have access to inventory information is key. Knowing which products are in stock, which are not, and which the customer wants is critical. Drawing insight from multiple datasources determines the validity of recommendations, and retail analytics applications must draw from sources such as consumer decision trees, advanced store clustering, demand transference and space optimization, as well as traditional demand forecasting.
3. Making inventory transparent and accessible. Real-time information is critical, for example, taking into account recent returns and orders so that the customer knows where and how they can buy the item they want. A single inventory master enables retailers to make items visible and accessible 24/7 across channels.
Once retailers have this accurate view of inventory, they can connect and improve efficiencies across day-to-day supply chain operations such as: store picking, store inventory processes, warehouse management and merchandising. From there, operational forecasts can consider not only price and promotional changes, but also the transfer of demand that happens when assortments change. The resulting single view of demand across the enterprise creates a domino effect that helps teams optimize and align purchases, allocations and seasonal plans.
4. Integrating the systems supporting retail operations. This is really an enabler for the first three. An integrated back end removes silos and allows for speedy interactions between channels.
But the path to integration is different for every retailer and presents challenging strategic decisions for the executive team. Retail executives must insist upon the flexibility to deploy new systems as a comprehensive suite or as modular best-of-breed point solutions that can integrate with existing solutions. Managing the changing retail environment requires better tools, and retailers are adopting new dashboards that allows IT to monitor and manage retail integrations from a single point. To sustain the promise of commerce anywhere requires that retailers more quickly identify transaction volumes, average response times, and errors to help ensure critical systems are consistently operating at maximum efficiency.
By keeping a careful eye on consumer trends in individual stores, retailers will be able to make more informed decisions about which products to carry and for how long. By harmonizing interactions across systems and platforms, retailers will be able to fulfill the promise of commerce anywhere. It is an exciting and demanding time to run marketing, IT, operations, or any aspect of the retail enterprise.