RETAIL TECHNOLOGY, SOLUTIONS, TRENDS AND MORE…
This year’s NRF Big Show has paved the way for the next 2-5 years in Retail industry powered by digital, IoT, Big Data and omni-present customer. We will cover how retail trends, solutions, technology and customer expectations are changing and impacting the industry as was showcased in the event. With 33500+ visitors, 100’s of sessions and miles of exhibitor’s, we covered areas of our interest that gave us visibility to the overall industry trends.

HOW RETAIL SOLUTIONS ARE CHANGING?
We took a detailed look at solutions provided by major product vendors such as Oracle, JDA, Demandware, SAP Hybris, Mozu and Manhattan Associates.

Couple of solutions as examples:

Oracle: Oracle has unveiled Retail V15 that is integrated with Micros (Acquisition done 2 years back) based solutions. With the help of XStore POS, CRM, Order Management and Order Broker solutions from Micros kitty; now integrated with Retail merchandising solution suite along with eCOM solutions OCP, OCC and ATG – Oracle has completed a well-rounded solution for omnichannel needs aptly called as “Commerce Anywhere”. Some solutions are moving to the cloud like Order broker and management, Analytics suite, etc. We also see UIs become more responsive, sharp and intuitive for a savvy enterprise user.

JDA: JDA has unveiled Retail.me; a powerful offering for Assortment Planning based on cloud and mobile-friendly responsive design. Again, it’s following the overall theme of cloud, SaaS and mobility. JDA plans to move already powerful Enterprise Planning and Demand solutions to the same platform within 2016. While they start selling it this year, the more mature and comprehensive solution strategy is for the next year. JDA also showcased powerful Category Management and Supply Chain solutions.

Platform based Selling Solution providers: Major sales channel based platforms like Demandware, Hybris and Mozu (eCOM) and Aptos, Fujitsu, Manhattan Associates and Oracle for POS had solutions on display. We witnessed how the distance between eCOM &POS solutions can be reduced. Retailers can enable omni-channel capabilities seamlessly across digital and Brick-n-Mortar solutions. Enterprise users like Sales Associate can get equipped with mobility solutions and benefit from access to the same tools like online or call centers.

Few common trends noticed:

  • Integrated solutions catering to multiple channels and trying to fulfill today’s connected customer needs
  • Solutions moving towards clouds and SaaS models reducing infrastructure ownership needs
  • Analytics is becoming focus points of today’s solutions; especially they attempt to harness detailed customer and inventory information to be available using mobile, beacons and other tracking mechanisms

Today’s solution providers are enabling and maturing solutions for digital and omnichannel needs while improving cloud based SaaS offerings.

HARDWARE TECHNOLOGIES IMPACTING EXPERIENCE AND PROVIDING ANALYTICS

Talking about IoT, Beacons, robots, sensors, there are numerous options. This is a space where ‘Digital’ used to be 3-5 years back. We are still building the blocks of infrastructure. Some of these hardware technologies have potential to move further:

Intel IoT Solutions: They showcased “Immersive shopping experience”, where customer can engage with the brand for content, reviews, promotions etc. “Interactive wayfinding in store” is also helpful for grocery and department stores. These are cool solutions for the future, but how can it add value today, is a question retailers should be thinking about.

ShopperTrak: They offer Beacon based traffic counters and Analytics on top. Analytics can guide you in busy hours, help align labour with traffic and analyze movement patterns. They also have a smart-mat that can provide ‘heatmaps’ about customer density. This is a useful tool combined with traffic counter which can help optimize labour and improve conversion.

CoursaRetail: Again, a location based analytics service provider. One striking feature of this solution is usage of single location sensor at the front of store to map customer across the store. This is a good low cost solution for some onboarding retailers, who want to tinker around location based service ideas.

What is very much noticed here is that most solutions are ending with some analytics provided to retailer. How can retailers use this information, have not yet reached to operations like pricing, promotions, assortment, decisions, etc. We should see some of these getting into mature solutions like Oracle and JDA in the next couple of years.

IoT and Analytics make a good combination, but usage is still on pilot mode. It’s where digital was 3-5 years back.

SESSIONS | SPEAKERS | TRENDS
This is one of the most interesting dimensions of Retail’s BIG SHOW, where we learn and hear from retail executives on their vision and challenges. We were spoilt for choice and had to be very selective. NRF 2016 Recap provides content and recordings of most sessions, if you wish to catch up on any.

Some I liked in particular:

Using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to create natural conversations with online shoppers: Great introduction to the Watson based AI product by eCOM provider Fluid and The North Face. How touch-and-feel experience of physical store is brought over to online world is an interesting case study to look at.

Retail Organization 2020: Shop.org Think Tank Discussion: Interactive session with some of the retail technology visionaries about how digital experience is going to change in next few years. How a unified and seamless brand experience across connections, content and commerce, is the direction to take.

Cross-Border Commerce: The Litmus Test of Returns: An informative session about how international growth in ecommerce comes with its own challenges, biggest of that is returns processing. It provides an approach to handle the challenges.

Keep watching this space for in-depth information on latest Retail Technology practices and solutions…

Sunil Bajaj
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Sunil Bajaj

Director and Unit Head - Retail and CPG Practice at Aspire Systems
Sunil heads Retail business unit for Aspire Systems. He has spent 15+ years in IT services industry focusing on Retail and CPG industry. His experience includes creating solutions for transformation programs for Fortune-500 global retailers. His areas of expertize includes Oracle Retail suite, Managed Services solutions, Optimizing IT operations and digital transformations in today’s market.
Sunil Bajaj
contact me

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