Retail execs representing more than 20 companies shared their insights and experiences with approximately 360 attendees from 16 countries during the 2019 Oracle Retail Cross Talk event, held at the J.W. Marriott Mall of America in Minneapolis June 10-12.
Cloud and Artificial Intelligence (AI) were central themes of the event, which focused on helping retail brands transform from “victims to victors,” according to Mike Webster, SVP and General Manager, Oracle Retail in an opening presentation. The overarching goal of the event, he added, is to help brands “innovate at the pace of retail.”
In addressing the potential of AI and Machine Learning, Oracle is defining AI as a “feature, not a product,” one that is designed to “make business processes smarter,” said Jeff Warren, Vice President, Retail Strategy & Solutions Management, Oracle Retail. For example, using AI, grocers can now automate tasks such as verifying item info and assessing item performance, which frees up staff to engage in more creative and innovative activities. During Cross Talk, Oracle announced the launch of the Oracle Retail Science Platform Cloud Service.
Retail speakers at Cross Talk hailed from traditional companies, along with DTC brands based in the U.S. as well as many from around the globe. Speakers included:
- Nick Swetonic,SVP, Planning and Allocation, Stein Mart;
- Robert Moult,Head of Demand Planning Development, Dixons Carphone;
- Lisa Allen,Customer Relationship Management, The Kroger Company;
- Connie Santilli, Vice President, Enterprise Systems & Emerging Markets, Gap, Inc.;
- Harsha Bellur,EVP and Chief Information Officer, James Avery Jewelry;
- Claudio Bianchi,Chief Information Officer, Pianoforte Group;
- Jasmine DeCarish,Senior Business Analyst, Total Wine & More;
- Massimiliano Gerli,Global Director of Information and Technology, Bata; and
- Cara Graham,Demand Planning Director, Best Buy.
Highlights From Retailer Sessions
• Stein Mart needed to better manage business processes while expanding e-Commerce capabilities and adding a new children’s department. The 283-store chain became cloud-first and added allocation and replenishment solutions from Oracle. Minimal solution customization helped to facilitate a smooth, quick implementation.
• Kroger, thethird largest retailer in the U.S., recently acquired Harris Teeter, Fred Meyer and also dunnhumby (rebranded to 84.51). The company launched a strategy to redefine the grocery customer experience in 2018, tapping into personalization, space optimization, smart pricing and a focus on digital. Oracle tools helping in this transformation include a Supplier Hub, AIP, RMS and Cloud Financials. It’s an “agile” implementation vs. a “waterfall.”
• Best Buy implemented technology updates to help “use the customer to reinform the plan…going from managing everything to managing exceptions; and local management to centralized management.”
• James Avery Jewelry fulfills 40% of online transactions as in-store pickups. To facilitate a more seamless process, the retailer consolidated from three payment partners down to one. Now the company has a “synergistic relationship between online and in-store.”
• Bata, the world’s leading shoemaker by volume, is working to “unlock the potential of omnichannel” by offering a wider product catalog, click-and-collect and fast delivery. The brand is implementing a new e-Commerce platform and a new digital store platform, and already has seen a 157% revenue increase YOY in e-Commerce. The brand also anticipates recovering 15% of missing sales with the digital store platform.
• Kendra Scott was losingtouch with its customer base because of a lack of customer data and inefficient processes. By implementing new POS, order management and merchandise management capabilities, POS transaction times have been reduced to less than one minute from as high as three minutes.
• Gap is engaging in a Project Management Org (PMO) governance strategy, involving a core team of 140 to 200. The group is working with Oracle to “get smaller with SaaS.” The governance team, previously comprised of 70% outside contractors and 30% internal, is now working toward increasing internal teams to 50%.
During Cross Talk, Oracle also invited attendees to help raise money for local Minnesota charities during “The Fabulous Retail Race” event in the Mall of America.