Following Oracle OpenWorld 2011 held in San Francisco in October, Retail TouchPoints connected with Mike Webster, General Manager of Oracle Retail, and asked him to elaborate on Oracle’s cross-channel commerce platform.
RTP: Are there particular implementations toward which more retailers are leaning this year versus other years? If so, to what do you attribute these trends?
Webster: There are two. First, we are seeing a greater shift toward implementing suites of business applications, not point solutions. I attribute this to the multichannel phenomenon: Multi-channel retailing, the interplay between commerce, mobile and stores, requires cohesive processes that reflect a holistic view of the business. Day-to-day, that means we are helping retailers and partners implement more planning, merchandising, supply chain and commerce solutions that are truly engineered to work together. Second, we are seeing an explosion of processing speeds and cloud computing. Retailers are moving to those solutions that make them more agile, and we are seeing an increased adoption of the combined hardware and software platform as a way to improve performance and spend less time on maintenance. This has implications regarding how we architect solutions and the user interface, and what consulting services we provide.
Retail TouchPoints: What has the addition of ATG brought to the table for Oracle Retail?
Mike Webster: ATG is critical to delivering on the multichannel promise that our customers expect from Oracle. We are integrating ATG Commerce, which is world class, with Oracle Retail applications and the Oracle technology stack. The combination provides retailers a high-performance, scalable cross-channel platform.
RTP: What is next for the e-Commerce platform?
Webster: First, we’ve just certified Oracle ATG Commerce on Oracle Exalogic, boosting performance up to 300% in throughput and shopping sessions. This is further evidence of how when we engineer solutions to work together, from hardware to software, we help to create a business advantage for our customers. That affects more than retailers; financial services, communications and other consumer-centric businesses increasingly rely on their commerce systems to support multiple channels such as web sites, mobile applications, social commerce and even in-store transactions. This type of multichannel functionality requires extreme performance and scalability. In addition, Oracle ATG has continued to broaden its capabilities with the addition of multi-site management and support for more mobile devices. Combined with Oracle Retail applications and Oracle Exalogic, this is the most complete, flexible and scalable commerce platform on the market.
RTP: Earlier this year, Oracle Retail rolled out a new initiative called “Your Experience” platform. What is this platform and why did you implement it?
Webster: “Your Experience” is about having better control over what happens at each customer touch point. We believe that by putting in place an integrated, open platform for merchandising, supply chain, planning, commerce, stores and financial operations, retailers can deliver a better customer experience and equip their businesses to innovate and drive growth.
RTP: What are the components of the “Your Experience” platform?
Webster: For retailers to have better control over what happens at each customer touch point, they need three things: actionable insight, operational excellence and a seamless customer experience across all channels. First, they need insight to their business ― the whole business ― and they need to put that insight into the hands of everyone, from store associates to the finance team. Second, retailers must optimize operations. By that I mean aligning key performance indicators across core business teams, equipping users to execute smart decisions around daily operations, and facilitating clean handoffs between groups. Finally, retailers must deliver a consistent, connected customer experience across all channels. This means that no matter how the customer chooses to interact, whether in a store, online, using a mobile device or calling a service center, the retailer can respond with the highest level of service.
RTP: What else can we expect to see from Oracle Retail in the coming year and beyond?
Webster: You will see us continue to: 1) engineer hardware and software to work together, boost performance and deliver insight to retailers; 2) work closely with our global network of partners to simplify and improve the way that we put systems in place; and 3) work closely with retailers to help them identify and achieve business value using Oracle solutions.
Mike Webster is Senior Vice President and General Manager of Oracle Retail. He leads the global business unit’s strategic planning, product development, sales, service, support and solution groups Webster most recently served as Senior Vice President and General Manager of NCR’s retail and hospitality solutions. During his more than 20-year tenure at NCR, Webster held various senior management positions in business strategy, corporate communications and government affairs. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in management from the University of Dayton.