Another great show this year at NRF in New York. Between great meetings with our customers and partners, here are top five retail technology takeaways from NRF 2020 from the exhibitor floor.
Store Digital twins
Satya Nadella mentioned them in his opening keynote of NRF and were a topic of conversation with many partners. A digital store twin in the cloud that can monitor and predict behavior is a proposition full of potential applications across customer, product and inventory.
The increase on the number of sensors and general data gathering end points at the store augments the fidelity of the digital replicas. At SkillNet, the virtualization and devops automation of the registers and devices of the retail POS state is a solution we have been providing to customers for testing and monitoring purposes at scale.
Vendors continue to define value around Customer Journeys
Consistent with previous events and current trends across industries, a lot of the conversations on how to best define the requirements for modern retail centered on customer journeys. From a technology perspective there were more general purpose Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) in show than the more narrow solutions for retail customer relationship management (CRMs) or in the spaces of loyalty or gift cards.
From our experience working on customer journeys definition, one definite risk is in aligning too much with methodologies associated with business process reengineering. The aim of frictionless execution of business processes, particularly on omnichannel flows, is only part of the objective. Retailers look for differentiation in the customer experience, not just efficiency. While the CDP platforms revolve around customer, the customer experience is a relationship between two: the customer and the brand. It will be interesting to see if these CDP solutions evolve their focus on that relationship. This should manifest first between customer and product, bringing better capabilities on interactions between the two by the extended use of Artificial Intelligence.
AI is everywhere but not all AI is created equal
Since mentioning AI. AI was everywhere at the event. Across the buy,move,sell,return retail process landscape and in most booths. AI was mentioned as part of most services and products. However very little detail on implementation or capability. The general impression is that most vendors are using now machine learning for predictive analytics. It was difficult not to be a bit cynical about some of the claims. Not necessarily expecting that vendors will include all details of their algorithms or techniques. But at least provide some signal of what is there under the covers as a minimum standard. Some of the claims were so broad that you could think general intelligence had been achieved. May be there is already a good capability classification somewhere suitable for events like this. Going beyond powered by AI but not explicitly talking about things like naive Baynes, logarithmic regression or random forests. If exists it was nowhere to be found in NRF
AR and 3D modeling are finding more practical use cases
Practical use cases for Virtual Reality have not always been easy to find in retail. It is more exciting to be placed inside a virtual alien world than inside a virtual shopping center. However there were plenty of great uses cases for augmented reality and 3d models at the show this year.
Beyond experiences at the retail store with smart mirrors and other dedicated devices, AR should be looking to grow as part of the mobile experience with the increase of coverage for 5G in 2020. Many tools available and vendors after this market.
For 3D models, the solutions were more matured and can be used at scale on large catalogs with certain degree of automation. Multiple options were available for 3D model capabilities on media generation in content management. Beyond content management, solutions for product customization were also available, executing the configuration with 3D printing or with a traditional manufacturing process.
Robotics for store inventory management
While robots are commonplace in warehouses for inventory management, a number of solutions at the show this year were showing robot based solutions for inventory management at the store. It would be interesting to see how these solutions evolve and mature. The methods and parameters of inventory data that could be captured into the system will significantly change and expand.
A version of this article is also published at www.Medium.com
Written by Antonio Alvaro, Antonio is Senior Vice President Solutions and General Manager International
For retailers that sell goods and services in the EU, the looming May 2018 deadline to comply with the EU General Data Protection Regulation is not groundbreaking news – it has been barreling towards them since it was approved and adopted in early 2016. But while there are certainly some retailers locked, loaded, and ready to go, we’ve had many firsthand conversations with others on the opposite end of the spectrum. We’ve heard quiet rumblings among many retailers expressing fear over whether they will be ready in time and uncertainty over whether their current course of action will fully meet all requirements.
We are pleased to offer regional expertise to consult and provide insight into these compliance issues. SkillNet has been serving the global retail community for the last 20+ years with retail engagements in over 25 countries across EMEAI. Our experience specifically with retail implementations in the EU and the provision of internationalization accelerators for payment systems, tax requirements, and localized regulatory compliance for this region has put us in a unique position to be able to provide insight to retailers on how to best mitigate this transition towards GDPR compliance.
2-Week Rapid Assessment of GDPR Compliance
Are you unsure whether your enterprise is ready for GDPR? We can quickly put your fear to rest. SkillNet is offering a 2-week rapid assessment of your GDPR compliance roadmap. Within this timeframe, we can provide you with a tailored assessment of your current and future preparations to ensure you have taken all necessary steps to comply with the new GDPR requirements for marketing consent and profiling, as well as ensuring proper data protection compliance and procedures are in place. We want to help you better understand how your enterprise and compliance approach stacks up to these regulations.
For those organizations determined to be noncompliant, the fines are significant. The maximum penalty for serious infringements can incur a fine up to 4% of annual global turnover or € 20 million with tiered fines for lesser infringements. We are here to help you make your preparations far in advance of the deadline to reduce your risk and losses from noncompliance penalties and fallout.
Join SkillNet at the Oracle Retail Industry Forum, Europe 2017
Please contact us for more information on this topic or come meet us in person. SkillNet is proudly sponsoring the Oracle Retail Industry Forum Europe in Barcelona September 19-20. Please reach out to us at the event or set up a meeting in advance, we would be thrilled to discuss any issues or concerns you may have on this topic with regard to your enterprise.
This year’s NRF Protect Conference marks my 20th year since presenting a breakout session called ‘LP exception reporting and our success.’ Where have the years gone? I know…working and promoting the world of exception based reporting to everyone in the LP industry. I have enjoyed the success of implementing, consulting and providing training for many EBR platforms and exclusively with XBR for over 10 years. It has been a rewarding 20 years as I have been privileged to not only work for great companies, but to also be able to work with outstanding companies who have shared their enthusiasm and allowed me the opportunity to provide best practices, customizations and improve ROI (return on investment) in their EBR platform.
Bringing greater value to the reporting and your organization
When I look back at my initial implementations of XBR, I even surprise myself at how much the industry has grown from the early days of looking at basic exception types like Cash Refunds, Employee Discounts and Post Voids. Today, we analyze a broad spectrum of data elements such as All Tenders, Ecommerce Sales, Inventory Results, and Customer Info, as well as the utilization of dynamic and interactive dashboards that further drive results. At SkillNet, we are always looking to expand our data mapping to enhance the exception research, like adding Inventory results, Time & Attendance records, additional employee information (like home and email addresses) and elements from other corporate sources. This effort is what brings a greater value to the reporting and an organization.
For many of the customers that I have interacted with throughout the years, my XBR consulting has proven many times to bring the customers a new perspective on their operations. Each experience is different from another as each customer has different challenges in the EBR world. But often times in the initial review of the current setup of a customer’s EBR platform, I immediately found where reports were broken, had incorrect links, and helped identify specific usage areas not being utilized by the customer. My reward is not just making fixes, but showing them new exceptions, having them understand the ‘how’ and ‘why’ to establish better control points (with an understanding of the thresholds) and providing best practice advice and setup specifically tailored to their business needs and opportunities. In future blogs, I will expand upon my findings and share more on these opportunities.
Need an XBR refresher?
We at SkillNet provide customized training sessions on all versions of XBR. Many times a refresher class for one day makes all of the difference and helps many users clarify how to maximize the efficiency of setting up a productive XBR system. Also included in this basic functionality training, we provide insight on how to investigate with XBR. It is a good start to know how to function through the application, but ultimately everyone really wants to know “where are my cases”? We can show you the areas most common to each specific retailer and get you started by showing you the true value of the XBR application.
Are you considering an upgrade to XBRi?
As an Oracle Gold Partner focused on global retail, SkillNet is a trusted leader in the industry. We can evaluate your current platform and help determine whether, when and how to upgrade so your company can best utilize key new features. Let’s discuss your plans and goals so we can start answering your questions.
Please contact me if you are interested in speaking with us about your own situation or interest in XBR. You can learn more about SkillNet’s Oracle Retail XBRi Loss Prevention services in our data sheet.
See you at the NRF Protect Expo 2017
On June 27th and 28th, we will be attending the NRF Protect LP Conference and Expo in Washington DC to share how we can secure your future and protect profitability with our Oracle Retail XBRi Loss Prevention services. If you would like to setup a private meeting during the two days, please feel free to reach out to me and we will schedule a specific time that works with your schedule during the show. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Imagine, you get a coupon along with your sales receipt…
- We are moving to Queens Street! We would like to welcome you there with 30% off on all your purchases from 20th Feb 2015 to 25th Feb 2015.
- Congratulations! You just qualified for £10 on your next purchase.
- Want to try something new? Try Bee’s Honey in your next purchase and get one free! (Here, the customer has bought Friars Honey)
- Interested in Sports Nutrition? Buy any two products from our Sports Nutrition line and get 50% off and 250 bonus points on your next purchase!
- Spending more in our store! Definitely not on your next purchase! Get £20 off on purchase of £50. Keep shopping!
Of course, you will exult with a personalised coupon considering your purchasing habits. That’s the magic of Bounce Back that we achieved at Holland & Barrett International (HBI)!
What are Bounce Back coupons?
Bounce Back coupons, as the name suggests, are the coupons with promotions and discounts bounced back to allow HBI to engage with their customer base with specific offers suited to their shopping habits. This concept was developed to increase engagement with the brand and increase in frequency of visits.
“Holland & Barrett have been deploying Bounce Back promotions across its retail and online estate for the last 12 months to encourage customers to make repeat purchases and additional visits. The offers have ranged from individual SKU level promotions to transactional money off and loyalty bonus points.
Using redemption data in conjunction with the loyalty programme has provided insight into these additional offers to the brand’s customers. The next phase of the Bounce Back initiative will be to determine relevancy to customers of promotional offers with a focus on personalised information held through the loyalty system, maintaining the level of reward and discount whilst increasing the ROI of the Bounce Back program.”
– Jonathan Haywood, Customer Insight Manager for Holland & Barrett International
Before Bounce Back
Before Bounce Back coupons, HBI was unable to treat the customer with special promotions based on their purchases and segments, relying on ‘On Shelf’ promotions in stores.
Bounce Back Coupons
Different types of coupons can be setup centrally for a specific store, price band or across the estate for all brands based on the requirements of the business. The coupons are issued to the customer based on the Holland & Barrett International customer type, customer segment, items purchased, basket total or combination of all leaving long lasting brand awareness behind. Easy to setup, scalable and measurable coupons have greatly benefited HBI by incremental sales, measurable increase in customer response, satisfaction and revisits. Over time, these coupons have been used to advertise relocations, new store openings, supplement point promotions and target specific products or basket spends.
In the first 12 months, bounce back coupons added an excellent increment in sales to HBI, and this will only increase with time as more targeted coupons are introduced.
Cutting Edge Benefits
- Promoting or advertising right in the hands of the customer giving them an improved shopping experience.
- Promoting specific items (promoting Bee’s Honey to customers who are buying Friars Honey)
- Increase in customer reach via magazine coupons-posted coupons which can readily be redeemed in store.
- The great advantage of these coupons is also in the speed in which they can be stopped-overnight-should an issue be discovered with the coupon.
For more information on how SkillNet can help you increase brand engagement and reward your customers with its store innovations, please request a consult.
Join our sessions featuring the launch of PacSun’s successful customer loyalty program at Oracle Industry Connect 2016.
Next week kicks off Oracle Industry Connect 2016 where there will be many fantastic sessions led by retailers. I am in a unique position this year to have the honor of introducing our customer PacSun’s breakout session. Cory Day from PacSun will be talking about their experience with the implementation of Oracle Retail Customer Engagement (ORCE). Their story is one that will really resonate with fellow retailers. SkillNet has been a long time partner with PacSun and in January 2015 we embarked on a full Xstore implementation project where ORCE was deployed to both their legacy and future point of sale applications. As the Account Manager for PacSun, I have been privileged to witness their excitement and enthusiasm for their customer loyalty program and the results it has already delivered.
On Wednesday, April 13th at Oracle Industry Connect (OIC) there will be two opportunities to hear about the PacSun success story for customer loyalty using the ORCE module from Oracle. First, at a roundtable luncheon starting at 11:45am, we will have an informal discussion on how PacSun was able to use ORCE for their successful customer loyalty program which SkillNet helped them deliver in under 6 months. Second, will be the official break out session with Cory Day at 2:30pm entitled PacSun: Surprise and Delight Loyal Customers. I am very excited to be participating in and attending these sessions at OIC to hear about the very impressive customer loyalty story from PacSun and hope to see you there as well.
It is with great enthusiasm that I am announcing the launch of SkillNet’s new website design.
As we kick off 2016, SkillNet couldn’t be more thrilled to share its bold new look and refreshed content with our online community. A few of our goals with the website redesign were to expand our content, enhance the user experience, and improve our communication methods with interested parties. But our most important goal was to help our clients and peers in the industry get to know us better. Now when perusing our site, we hope you will get a good idea of who we are and what we do as a company. Our focus on delivering digital transformations for retailers through omni-channel solutions and services is front and center. It’s not only the core of who we are, it’s now the core message of our online presence.
We’ve also compiled a number of resources to help our customers on their journey into digital, and we’ve streamlined their accessibility by corralling them into a single location.
With the fresh new look that is both easier to use and more informative, we hope the new design improves your online experience at skillnetinc.com. Take a look around!
The word omni is a latin prefix which means “all” or “every.” Growing up as a catholic in a Spanish speaking country, I heard the word omni mostly used in relation to divine attributes, not achievable by mere mortals: omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, et al. Solemn words which sounded to me perhaps a bit pretentious. Nowadays however, working in the retail industry, I hear the prefix omni far more often and in a rather different context. The term omni-channel is everywhere. It is normally used to convey how new capabilities for sales channels should not only not be looked at in isolation across channel (which the prefix multi already provided) but holistically, as part of a collective whole that covers “all” and “every” channel.
Most traditional retailers in the 90’s increased their number of sales channels separating entities for both business and technical reasons. The thinking was about e-commerce vs stores, direct vs indirect and so on, and that permeated the way operations grew, as well as the design of the systems that underpinned them. Customers outgrew this way of thinking, if indeed it ever existed in the mind of the consumer. Now they look to engage with brands in whichever way is most effective leaving retailers to focus on providing a consistent experience across all points of interaction.
Today capabilities such as click and collect, location aware customer mobile apps, and integrated social media clienteling are almost expected, and brands need to race to not fall behind.
No #1 – When looking at omni-channel strategies it is very hard to not be tempted to scrap your old systems and start new all over again. At the core of your foundation is product, stock, promotion, and customer. Bringing new omni-designed systems to each of those entities takes a substantial investment of capital and man power. In the meantime, you have to continue trading on the old systems and run the business. Among your old systems there are also many lessons learned and unique experiences carved out of running your operations. Some of these are clear differentiators of your unique brand or business model which you will still need to migrate to any new systems. A change of this magnitude, even if conceptually very attractive, is hard to execute.
No #2 – The other option, perhaps even more tempting, is looking for the quick win—that one capability that can be delivered this quarter or next and can be reported back as introduction or proof of omni-channel. This is additional functionality that can be developed by creating another layer of complexity without introducing change in the existing systems. It can also be identified as one that requires no or minimal integration with legacy systems.
This option has a real problem of expectations. Once your customer interacts with the new service its limitations quickly become obvious. Success can be worse than failure for this option, as new capabilities are requested to be built on top of what is there. What starts out simple will prove to be very difficult to maintain with a solution that is not designed to scale.
Between those two options is the real risk of analysis paralysis and not to start anything out of fear of complexity and ultimately failure.
Instead, light the path.
The final option for achieving omni-channel, the one that I typically find myself discussing with retailers, is actually the most difficult one. Omni-channel doesn’t have to be about doing “everything” on one large project or achieving a quick win for a pet initiative. Instead it should be about the setup of a strategy for execution: the creation of a roadmap with incremental achievable steps aligned to a business case.
Discussions on transition architectures and capability milestones might not be the most exciting approach to omni-channel, even if some quick wins are thrown into the plans for good measure. However, this is the best way to avoid any omni-shambles.